Eating Disorders: Learn the Facts (cont.)

MEMBER QUESTION: What kinds of liver damage can chronic purging cause?

BROWNELL: Chronic purging can cause a number of biological problems. These differ in different people. If you are concerned about physical effects from purging, it is very important to see a physician and be completely honest with your eating history.

Often people will see physicians when they are experiencing some symptom or have some abnormality in a blood test, but very often are embarrassed about discussing their eating. This puts the physician at a serious disadvantage and doesn't allow him/her to see the full picture. Physicians have heard most everything and certainly won't be surprised by anything you tell them. It is much more important to be healthy than to avoid what embarrassment you may feel.

MEMBER QUESTION: A 12-year-old girl needs help in losing weight. She is 32% on the BMI scale and is having an extremely hard time controlling things she eats as well as how much. No vomiting. She cannot make decisions wisely. What would be a good option for her? She happens to be seeing a nutritionist who is trying to cut back on candy/snack buying at school and snack eating. Most of her eating is done away from home or sneak eating.

BROWNELL: Sometimes what lies between unhealthy and healthy eating is simply knowledge. If a person can be coached by a nutritionist and in so doing develop better eating patterns, then all is well. But sometimes the knowledge itself isn't enough and there are motivational and psychological issues that block a person from doing what they know is right.

MEMBER QUESTION: I was bulimic for many years. Now, taking a laxative, vitamin, or prescribed medicine for more than three days makes me sick. How do I overcome this?

BROWNELL: It is not possible for me to comment in an educated way because this is a question that should be handled by a physician who is working with you. There could be a number of reasons for the symptoms you are experiencing, but only a physician who understands you and your medical history would be in a position to help.

MODERATOR: We are almost out of time, Dr. Brownell. Before we wrap things up for today, do you have any final words for us?

BROWNELL: I have done a number of these live events and today's questions were particularly insightful. When one struggles with a problem it always helps to seek out advice from people who know the field and to be completely honest about what you have experienced. There is help available for the people who go out and get it. What might seem like strength, relying on oneself and not asking for outside help, is really a weakness. Some of the most successful people in life have problems and are wise enough to seek help when they need it. The web site of the national eating disorder association is an excellent place to look for additional information.

MODERATOR: Our thanks to Dr. Kelly Brownell for joining us today. And thanks to you, members, for your great questions. I'm sorry we couldn't get to all of them.

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