“Anorexia in essence is the refusal to live, even if the sick do not realize it”: with these words the oncologist and researcher Umberto Veronesi defined one of the most common eating disorders in the Western world. A typical disease of the countries of well-being which, together with bulimia and other food-related diseases, affects about 3 million people in Italy, mostly women and adolescents. Alarming data that lead us to ask ourselves why these disorders occur and what can be done to help those young people who fight against them every day.
Bulimia, anorexia and binge eating disorder are the eating disorders that affect Italian adolescents more than others. These are ailments that have a great impact on all spheres of a person’s life. Everything suddenly begins to revolve around food and the fear of gaining weight and even very simple gestures, such as going to a pizzeria or restaurant with friends, can become a cause for anxiety. Malaise also affects the emotional sphere, often leading to isolation and loneliness. The causes are different, but all linked to the emotional fragility typical of adolescence. It is in fact a very delicate phase in the life of each individual, characterized above all by the change in physical appearance. Being able to accept yourself is not always simple: often the image that the mirror sends back is that of a girl with too wide hips, too big thighs and too big a belly.
For people who suffer from bulimia, the anguish is even stronger due to the fact that the weight is excessive and this is experienced with great discomfort and shame. All problems are therefore attributable to food. Unfortunately, to play a fundamental role from this point of view are often the models of beauty proposed to young people by society: models, actresses and influencers, who embody everything a girl would like to become, are often very thin. Furthermore, the problem of physical appearance is often only secondary. Many girls and many boys come to have a pathology of this type due to problems not necessarily related to the acceptance of their image, but due to a disappointment in love or a separation, difficult relationships with parents, low self-esteem and much more. . Unable to react in the face of difficulties, young people often pour out their frustration at the table, establishing an unhealthy relationship with food.
Adolescents with eating disorders are a real invisible and silent army: they rarely tell others about their inner war, they often withdraw into themselves. It would therefore be right, especially at school, to talk about anorexia, bulimia and eating disorders during class hours, perhaps with the help of an expert. It is from here that we must start again to resolve the situation: to make adolescents understand that they are not alone and that this battle can be won together.