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When is a diet a diet or eating disorder?

SHARE When is a diet a diet or eating disorder?

According to ANRED, a group of medical professionals who compile information on anorexia nervosa and related eating disorders, about 1 percent of females ages 10 to 20 have anorexia.

The ANRED Web site at www.anred.com also cites studies that show 4 percent of college-age females are bulimic (they binge and purge) and 10 percent of all anorexics and bulimics are male.

If you are in high school today, these estimates might seem low to you. You might think that even more than one out of 100 of your classmates are starving themselves and more than four out of 100 are forcing themselves to vomit. You might also wonder how eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia get started.

Apparently, dieting can be a trigger to an eating disorder if it is used for extremes in losing weight and if it causes you to go hungry rather than focus on eating to be healthy.

In an article on the WebMDHealth site at my.webmd.com, Miranda Hitti wrote, "(Teens) also start (to diet) too young, which can affect growth and development." In addition, "All too often, teens have misguided ideas about dieting and unhealthy dieting behaviors. For instance, they tend to cut calories ruthlessly, reducing the amounts of fats in their diets without compensating by increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables they eat."

You'll probably be hearing more about what causes eating disorders during the last week in February, which is Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention Week.

Meanwhile, Pulse reporters decided to ask teens around Utah to describe the difference between an eating disorder and a diet.

"The line is very fine between the two. A diet should be used along with exercise and a healthy eating plan. If it is not used in this way then I would consider it an eating disorder. Diets can be dangerous if not used correctly and should be used with caution. They can easily turn from a way to lose a few pounds to an obsession." — Jennifer Poole, sophomore, Timpanogos High School

"When you just don't eat, I guess." — Michael Steele, senior, Bingham High School

"I think a diet is just watching what you eat and don't eat, (however), an eating disorder controls you and is hard to overcome." — Paige McGuire, sophomore, Timpview High School

"When they get obsessed with it, and it consumes their life." — Brooke Sorenson, junior, Bingham

"I think an eating disorder is when a diet gets too extreme . . . if they become obsessed with (a diet) it becomes an eating disorder. Any type of body-image concerns or worrying excessively about eating can be an eating disorder, also." — Natalie Christensen, junior, Timpview

"They get so skinny that if you hug them, you would crush them." — Greg Shaw, junior, Bingham

"Diets are controlled. A good diet has a good plan that dieters can follow, which should help them control their appetite. Eating disorders, on the other hand, are not controlled. Rather, (an eating disorder) usually controls the person." — Rosalyn Smith, senior, Timpview

"When that's all you think about, and when you are more worried about what you eat than your life." — Alex Cameron, junior, Bingham

Coryn Cope is a junior at Timpview High School in Provo and Kristin Nielson is a junior at Bingham High School. Both are members of the Deseret Morning News Pulse team of high school writers. If you are a Utah high school student and have a topic you would like to see covered, please e-mail pulse@desnews.com or write to Susan Whitney at the Deseret Morning News.