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Informative Speech On Anorexia

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I was Julie’s best friend. I watched her grow from a little girl who doted on by her parents into a tomboy who carried frogs in her pockets. I watched her become a young woman, fussing with her hair and trying on every outfit in her closet before her first date. I always wanted to be like her.

But then something went terribly wrong. Julie’s shiny hair became dull and brittle. Her eyes lost their sparkle, and she didn’t smile that brilliant smile anymore. I watched now, as she stepped onto the scale seven times a day, wore baggy clothes to cover her shriveled frame, and kept muttering about losing those last two stubborn pounds. Julie had become anorexic.

One in every 100 teenage females in American suffers from anorexia, and the New York Times says this number is rising by 5 percent every year. Although this disease does strike men, says the Times, 90 percent of its victims are women, and 44 percent of those victims are college-age females.

From my research and my personal experience with Julie, I have discovered that anorexia is an extremely serious disease that strikes a large number of Americans. Today I will tell you what anorexia is, what causes it, and what methods are used to treat it.

BODY I. Let’s start by examining what anorexia is.

A. Anorexia nervosa, one of a number of eating disorders, is a disorder of self-starvation. Simply put, a person who is anorexic refuses to eat normal amounts of food.

1. An article in Maclean’s states that there are four characteristics of all anorexics: i. (1) refusal to maintain normal body weight, ii. (2) loss of
more than 15 percent of original body weight, iii. (3) a distorted image of one’s own body, and iv. (4) an intense fear of becoming fat.

B. The refusal of anorexics to eat has many serious physical consequences.

1. Hair and skin become dry and brittle, and a fine growth of hair may cover the entire body in an attempt to compensate for a lower body temperature.

2. As the anorexia progresses, lack of calcium causes bones become brittle and break easily. According to an article in Sports Illustrated, “The X-rays of a young person who has been anorexic for five to six years and those of a 70-year-old are almost identical.” Lack of nutrition can also cause brain damage, blackouts, and a decreased pulse rate. In the most severe cases, anorexia can prove fatal.

C. In Julie’s case, she suffered from many of the symptoms of anorexia. I saw her 5’7″ frame drop to eighty-six pounds. She became weak and pale. Even in the middle of the summer, she was cold all the time. I just wanted to say to her, “Julie, please, can’t you see what you’re doing to yourself!” But, like most anorexia, she just couldn’t see.

TRANSITION: What causes people like Julie to become anorexic? .

II. Scientist have identified three main causes of anorexia A. An article in Newsweek attributes the rise in cases of anorexia to the pressure in our society to be thin.

1. The media constantly bombards us with images of thin people as ideals.

2. Fat-free products and diet aids have become multimillion-dollar industries. These images and these industries project the idea that being anything but slender is something to be feared and shunned.

B. The second major factor in causing anorexia is the personality of the victim and his or her reaction to the pressures of society.

1. The book Dying to Please states that most anorexics fit a basic profile. Many are overachievers or perfectionists.

2. They excel in school and are involved in a variety of extracurricular activities. They seek to please parents, teachers, and friends. Anorexics see being thin as a way to please others. In fact, most will limit their food intake to try to fulfill expectations of perfection from family and friends.

C. A third possible cause of anorexia has only been discovered within the past year. Doctors at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that when anorexics don’t eat, they experience a rise in their level of opiates, natural brain chemicals that produce a sense of happiness.

1. The researchers also found that when anorexics do eat, their bodies produce higher than normal levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that causes a sense of anxiety.

2. According to the doctors, these chemical changes may make anorexia as physically addictive for the anorexic as alcohol or drugs are for the alcoholic or drug addict. But then Julie decided she needed to go on a diet. She started constantly comparing herself to pictures of models in magazines. She was just sure that if she could look like the models, her life would truly be perfect. But losing weight never made Julie’s life perfect.

TRANSISTION: What kinds of treatment could have helped Julie and others like her? III: Treatment of anorexia is a lifetime process.

A. According to Dr. Katherine Halmi, director of the eating disorders clinic at New York Hospital, people think that eating disorders are “minor disorders that can be overcome with a little will power and effort, but these are serious, incapacitating illnesses that require professional intervention.” 1. Methods of treatment used to treat anorexia include group therapy, drug therapy, and individual counseling.

2. In severe cases, hospitalization and forced feeding are used to provide nutrition for the anorexic until he or she will eat a sufficient amount. Most anorexics are never cured and must fight the disease daily.

B. Another article in the New York Times states that more than 80 percent anorexics will have several relapses before they are cured. As Angie Melnyk, a fourteen-year-old who has been anorexic for two years, stated,” if you could cure anorexia in thirty days, it would be a lot less trouble.” CONCLUSION As I mentioned before, for some anorexics, no treatment is successful. For 18 percent of diagnosed anorexics, the disease proves fatal.

We have seen that anorexia is a serious disease with deep-seated causes and devastating, potentially fatal effects. Julie was one of those who couldn’t beat anorexia. She died when she was only seventeen. We will never go to college together and share a dorm room. She will never fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse. And we will never grow old living beside each other and watching our kids grow up together. Anorexia killed my beautiful, vibrant friend.

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