Monthly Archives - December 2018

Eating Disorders Among Minorities

When the term eating disorder is mentioned, there is usually a specific mental image that comes to mind. Traditionally, the stereotypical person with this type of mental health issue is a young, wealthier Caucasian female. Mass media and pop culture images usually reinforce the portrayal of hyper-thin, white women who are suffering from the effects of conditions like anorexia nervosa. However, this stereotype that eating disorders only inflect younger, white women is not correct.

Eating disorders are usually placed into four overall categories: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). Other mental health issues are also commonly assisted with these eating disorders such as general anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, bipolar disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

The American Psychiatric Association defines an eating disorder as an illness where people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors. They also have problems related to the regulation of thoughts and emotions, usually becoming obsessed with food consumption and their body weight. The prevalence of reported eating disorders, with the exception of anorexia nervosa, is similar among Non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asian Americans in the United States.

Decades ago, American societal portrayals of eating disorders were almost always shown as a white-woman problem. Shockingly, this misconception was also maintained by physicians and other healthcare professionals.

For example, behavioral health research from 2006 challenged the notion that African-American women were less likely to develop eating disorders. In this study, healthcare providers read 1 of 3 passages describing disturbed eating patterns of a fictional patient named Mary. The only differences between the passages were that the patient’s race, which was randomly changed for each provider. This meant that every fictional patient’s symptoms were identical, with only the person’s race randomly rotating between African-American, Caucasian, or Hispanic.

Healthcare professionals were then asked to diagnosis the patient’s level of depression, anxiety as well as whether an eating disorder might exist. In cases of a white racial profile, the eating behavior was considered problematic 44% of the time. For Hispanic profiles, the behavior was considered problematic in 41% of the cases. Surprisingly, when the patient was identified as African American, the eating behavior was identified as problematic in only 17% of the cases. The study’s final results suggested that healthcare clinicians appear to hold race-based stereotypes about eating disorders that could limit their detection of symptoms in African-American girls.

The results of the 2006 study reinforced earlier research from 2002 which found that the race of adolescent girls had a significant impact on the detection of disturbed eating patterns. In this study, undergraduate college students recognized the existence of an eating disorder more often when they read about a Caucasian female, rather than when they read about a minority female (Hispanic or African American) with the same behavior.

National statistics indicate that eating disorders predominantly occur in white females, but many eating disorder professionals increasingly believe that the data is skewed. Women of color have likely been alienated from personal support networks. In addition, healthcare professionals use to believe that African-American and Hispanic women were somehow more immune to eating disorders.

Until recently, people with an African American racial identify were underrepresented in treatment centers and research studies about eating disorders. Gathering quality data was more of a challenge due to societal misperceptions and prejudice. Now it is clear that perceptions of body image and disordered eating patterns are not just problems for young, white women.

Here is some additional information on eating disorders and minorities:

It is clear that eating disorders do not only occur in certain racial or socioeconomic groups. Race, ethnicity and/or socioeconomic status does not make individuals immune to these health conditions. In the past, eating disorders were primarily associated with heterosexual, young, white females. In fact, these mental health issues affect people from all demographics and ethnicities at similar rates. However, minority groups (particularly African Americans) are significantly less likely to receive help for eating disorder problems.

Regardless of one’s racial or ethnic identity, treating and recovering from an eating disorder takes time as well as professional help. An experienced mental health professional can help a person understand the origins of this behavior, whether it is an eating disorder as well as acquire coping skills.

For additional information or questions about this topic, please contact the staff at River Centre Clinic (RCC). Their Eating Disorders Programs provide a full range of treatment options for both adolescents and adults. The River Centre Clinic’s main phone number is 1.877.212.5457.

Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26)

The EAT-26 is the most widely cited standardized self-report screening measure that may be able to help you determine if you have an eating disorder that needs professional attention. Take the EAT-26 now and get immediate and anonymous feedback.

Follow us on Twitter:  @River_Centre

Eating Disorders, Minorities

Contributor: ABCS RCM

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Women using image filters - River Centre Clinic

Body Dysmorphia, Social Media & Image Filters

Social media is a popular tool for communication and entertainment. Few people would question the fact that people are spending an increasing amount of time on these new media platforms. In recent years, social media has become much more visual in presentation and layout. However, it is the evolution of the technology used to manipulate and alter images that have researchers concerned.

Social Media Dysmorphia:

The journalist Katie Couric made headlines when she shared an unedited selfie of herself without makeup. She shared the image of herself to draw attention to the distorted reality that photo editing software and applications can create. Couric was encouraging people to embrace their natural self and not be ashamed. Mental health professionals are concerned that unknowingly viewing heavily edited images can create a sense of body dysmorphia in the viewers. The term Snapchat Dysmorphia is now becoming an increasingly common phrase.

In the past decades, people are accustomed to seeing heavily edited images in advertisements. The fact that individuals in these ads have been airbrushed either physically or digitally is not a surprise. But now the technology has advanced to a level where the common social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat all have heavily edited photos. These images can portray an unrealistic and unattainable reality.

The question is whether social media users are aware that these images of average, everyday people are altered through the use of newer digital filters? The brain of the viewer who is looking at the image may not realize that it has been altered. This lack of awareness can have a negative impact on the viewer’s personal body image.

Photo Editing Apps:

Image and video editing software have been around for many years. These also could create an unrealistic expectation of beauty. What has changed is that now there are downloadable apps that offer high-tech image filtering capabilities. Now almost anybody can modify a photo on their smartphone, no previous experience required. Photo editing applications like Adobe Lightroom or Facetune make it easy for users to boost color saturation, clear up one’s complexion or whiten a person’s teeth.

The fact that software Lightroom can alter reality is not problematic. Issues occur when the people who are viewing the images are not aware that they are looking at a distorted reality. This images may present body image concepts that are physically unrealistic. Yet, due to the everyday, common feel of many social media platforms, viewers are sometimes tricked into believing they are looking at unedited photos.

Recent articles in the JAMA state that plastic surgeons are increasingly receiving requests to make patients look like their selfie images. Again, this is because photo editing software is becoming the norm, which is altering people’s perception of beauty and their overall body image.

The growth in cases of what some researchers are calling Snapchat dysmorphia can negatively impact people’s self-esteem. If severe enough, these self-esteem and body image issues can develop into body dysmorphic disorder.

Other Studies have already shown that there is a correlation between social media use and eating disorders like Orthorexia. People with this disease excessively focus on what they consider healthy eating. In doing this, they can actually start to damage their physical health. Studies have shown a correlation between orthorexia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some studies are pointing to a link between Instagram users and signs of orthorexia.

Broader research has shown that there is a definite correlation between social media usage and negative feelings. A recent study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicated that the more time individuals spent on social media websites, the more isolated and lonely they felt. Researchers believe that social media websites expose people to “highly idealized representations” of other people’s lives. This, in turn, creates feelings of envy as well as a distorted belief that other people are happier and more successful.

As more studies are conducted, it appears that the heavy consumption of social media content can create negative consequences. Social media channels may not create eating disorders and other mental health concerns, but these websites can exacerbate a pre-existing problem. For comments or questions about this topic or eating disorders in general, please reach out to us.

Who We Are:

At River Centre Clinic, our focus is to provide high-quality medical treatment for eating disorders. Our therapies have a proven track record and are cost-effective. We provide specialized care for patients with eating disorders in a state-of-the-art treatment environment. The clinic follows a treatment philosophy designed to provide an affordable treatment alternative to inpatient care. Our clinic provides state-of-the-art treatment located in a modern, spacious and tranquil setting in Sylvania, Ohio (just outside of Toledo, OH). The facility provides an effective and safe alternative to hospitals or hospital-based programs. Living facilities are located in the main building to comfortably accommodate adults and adolescents in separate units.

Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26)

The EAT-26 is the most widely cited standardized self-report screening measure that may be able to help you determine if you have an eating disorder that needs professional attention. Take the EAT-26 now and get immediate and anonymous feedback.

Follow on Twitter:  @River_Centre

Dysmorphia, Social Media, Body Image 

Contributor: ABCS RCM

Read more...