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South Med J. 1985 Apr;78(4):403-5.

Medical consequences of eating disorders.


While much has appeared in the recent literature about various psychotherapeutic techniques used to treat eating disorders, little attention has been paid to the medical complications. Prominent among these are heart damage, failure of the endocrine system, infarction and perforation of the stomach after acute dilatation, multiple suicide attempts, aspiration, injury or rupture of the esophagus, severe bleeding per rectum causing anemia due to laxative abuse, hypokalemic nephropathy, depressive disorders due to starvation, and severe erosion of the enamel of the teeth resulting in extensive loss of teeth. I decry the sudden trend of nonmedically trained personnel rushing into the treatment of eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa and bulimia, because they know little about the possibly fatal consequences of their failure to attend to some of these medical phenomena. I also note with grave concern the identification of the medical profession with the "thin is better" mentality of our culture, which blinds them to the serious medical consequences of eating disorders.

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