The data published by the Italian Association of Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition(ADI), shows the following: “In Italy there are about 3 million young people who suffer from eating disorders, of which 95.9% are women and 4.1% men. Every 100 thousand inhabitants there are 102 new cases of anorexia nervosa, while 438 are those of bulimia nervosa. The number of deaths in one year for anorexia nervosa is between 5.86% and 6.2%“.
The ADI is a no-profit association, with headquarters in Rome, which analyses all the aspects linked to nutrition, by promoting initiatives of assistance and information regarding the delicate relationship with food. This really worrying picture is the fruit of scientific study made by the association. The numbers are merciless and cannot leave anyone indifferent. The Italian young population (with reference to a maximum age of 34 years) is estimated at around 25 million units and is substantially divided halfway between males and females. The data relating to young people who suffer from general nutrition disorders, and fixed at 3 million, would affect 1 person on 8.
Women are more exposed
Another disturbing data is the one concerning the almost complete involvement of the feminine universe. On 100 young people with nutrition behaviour disorders, only 4 are male and 96 are women. This huge disproportion deserves an unprecedented effort. This picture is even sadder if we consider the high number of deaths. The Adi, in fact, adds another detail, a surprising data, to which nobody would have thought: with anorexia “the risk of death is three times higher with respect to the depression, schizophrenia or alcoholism“.
Anorexia Nervosa is the refusal to ingest foods, with a consequent reduction of the contribution of energy at a young age and heavy repercussions at the level of growth. The person, that does not feel in harmony with his own body, punishes himself and somatise the difficulty of relating with the others, feels inadequate at the physical level and as a person.
The boom of the phenomenon
Starting from the nineties, when the phenomenon appeared almost suddenly in all its tragic nature, there has been a widespread campaign to raise awareness by the media, often through means of explicit and direct examples. Even in the presence of a lot of controversy, the media tried to mitigate the myth of the very slim girl as a winning model, the only able to have success in TV or in the fashion industry. There was, gradually, also an appreciation of the curvy model, of the pleasant and harmonious woman even if with a few extra kilos. Many curvy models are now having a great success and they are legitimately proud about their slightly rounder body.
The attention of the media with regard to the problem of anorexia in the course of recent years is diminished but the phenomenon is unfortunately still present. This should lead to a conscious evaluation and to maintain a high level of attention. It is necessary to work first of all on the television broadcasts and on the models aimed precisely at the youth, at those that are more concerned, accepting the risk of losing a minimal percentage of television audience.
Cyberbullying also has a big responsibility on the growth of pathologies related to nutrition. In recent decades, the verbal and systematic derision by the classmates or by the “friends” of the neighbourhood is now reproduced and amplified by the web and by the social media.
The web, however, can be a great ally for the people struggling with the pathology, because they can freely learn (without shyness and reserve of having to physically go to a specialist), also seeking support in groups or in people with the same problem. In this case one can also avoid, at least immediately, to ask for the help and the mediation of parents, with consequent admission (other aspects that are considered very intimidating).
The problem is not solved, as somebody was thinking or was hoping, the data supplied by the Adi testify it. It is necessary to urge the collaboration of the media and to reawaken the attentions of a few years ago, there is a need to examine the situation in depth and to resolve the youth discomfort which opens in such bad behaviour with food, to prevent and eliminate a problem that was also present in past centuries but that has now reached unsustainable levels for the entire community. At the same time, it is necessary to shed light on the reason why the youth torment that may also be desirable and healthy, seasoned by the sparkling energy of adolescence, rather than being a stimulus for the adults (sometimes lazy and bored), bends towards pathological and desperate routes, not only at the level of nutrition.