Eating Disorders Rate Rises to 35% in Cypriot Teenagers
The rate of eating disorders in Cypriot schoolchildren at the high-school level has risen to 35 percent, said the founder of the Hellenic Centre for Treatment of Eating Disorders (HCFED) Maria Tsiaka, citing a recent study.
Based on the grammar school population, this means that up to 23,000 teenagers could be at risk of developing an eating disorder. Earlier studies also support the picture that the level of these diseases is very high. According to a 2010 survey of 164 high school students carried out at the GCSE School of Careers in Nicosia, 20 percent of students are trying to lose weight even though their weight is normal, and 17 percent refuse to eat when they are hungry because they are afraid of getting fat.
These types of diseases most commonly appear during puberty and the problem is further complicated by the lack of a specialised treatment centre on the island. This means that the cost to treat patients can be up to £500 per day in the case of patients who have to be sent abroad to England, for example.
So, families who are living through the nightmare of having a child with the debilitating diseases of bulimia or anorexia may also be facing the financial stress of sending their loved ones to another country to be treated.
Help is on the way, however, because Mrs. Tsiaka is in the process of setting up a dedicated treatment centre for patients with eating disorders in Cyprus called the Mediterranean Centre for Eating Disorders.
The project is supported by Kostas Katsonis, president of the Cyprus Association of Support People with Eating Disorders. In comments to state radio, Katsonis said that Cyprus needs its own centre for treating bulimia and anorexia.
The HCFED will conduct training and seminars in Cyprus starting at the beginning of May. Targeted at eating disorder caregivers like psychogists, psychiatric nurses and other carers, the seminars will also be used to recruit future staff at the future treatment centre on the island, said Tsiaka.
"The centre will be a 'copy' of the Greek treatment centre where we have around 150 people working with patients with eating disorders," she said.
The seminars will be held at the Almond Suites Conference Rooms in Nicosia and will last for 22 days. The trainers will include Dr. Janet Treasure, professor of psychiatry at Kings College, and Gillian Todd, psychiatric nurse at the Maudsley Clinic in London.
The diploma training course will include psychological intervention methods for bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. It will cover identifying the psycho-pathology of eating disorders and the relationship between food and mood. Therapists will learn about food diaries and the lifestyle and cognitive-emotional baggage in bulimics and binge eaters.
On the difficult disease of anorexia nervosa, participants in the diploma course will learn the New Maudsley Method in carers. This covers psychological interventions and neurobiological issues amongst others.
Practicing the basic skills of a motivational approach to eating disorder patients will be covered, along with how to handle relapses in patients struggling with anorexia nervosa.
Another important topic is nutritional interventions, including:
• Early re-feeding from low weight, managing risk and establishing nutritional rehabilitation.
• What is the role of food in managing anxiety about eating?
• How we can achieve, steady weight gain and general nutritional rehabilitation.
• Supporting learning to develop confidence and skills to eat in a healthy, socially normal way without excessive anxiety.
• Re-establishing natural appetite control to manage binge eating and other forms of uncontrolled and chaotic eating.
• Planning and stabilising eating to reduce rigidity and uncontrolled eating.
• Use of oral nutritional supplements, tube feeding, and vitamin and mineral and other supplements.
The nightmare of eating disorders
Anorexia nervosa is a physical and psychological disorder in which the drive to become thinner is also a struggle for control or fears about one's body. It mostly affects women, whose symptoms may include an intense fear of becoming fat, a distorted body image, and missed periods.
Bulimia is described as compulsive overeating and then vomiting (purging), fasting or exercising to get rid of the calories. Bulimia also has a psychological element to it, showing an obsession with body weight and guilt and fear about one's body.
Anorexia and bulimia are the most common forms of eating disorders, but there are other forms, including binge eating, orthorexia nervosa (an obsession with a 'pure' diet), diabulimia (the deliberate manipulation of insulin levels by diabetics trying to control their weight) and pica - a compulsive craving for eating or chewing non-food items or foods containing no nutrition.
For more information on the Hellenic Centre For Treatment of Eating Disorders, go to www.hcfed.gr. Contact Ms. Eva Voutsinas on +3020108003493 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.