Medical experts say young women starving themselves of food because they want to become slim are at risk of ovulation problems and other health complications.
Starvation under the guise of dieting, the experts say, also leads to eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, which comes with lots of health consequences.
According to Mayo Clinic, anorexia nervosa — often simply called anorexia — is an eating disorder characterised by abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of weight.
Mayo Clinic says people with anorexia place a high value on controlling their weight and shape, using extreme efforts that tend to significantly interfere with their lives.
Speaking in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, a Clinical Nutritionist at the Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos, Susan Holdbrooke, says when teenage ladies starve themselves of healthy foods because they don’t want to add weight, they suffer from eating disorders like an anorexia nervosa.
Holdbrooke said, “When you starve yourself, you are actually destroying tissues in your body and the body will continue to take the little that is available. Those starving themselves in order to look slim skimpy or trying to be a model are doing themselves more harm than good.
“For a woman that is depriving herself of little fat, the tendency for her to have a high level of oestrogen is very low and when the oestrogen level is low, the woman will have a problem with ovulation.
“A woman can also suffer from amenorrhoea – she will not be able to see her menses because of starvation. If you are not eating well, there will be a hormonal imbalance.”
She further said, “A girl can starve herself to the point of dying without knowing that she is starving the body tissues of food.
“Now, at the end of the day, she will be grossly malnourished.”
The nutritionist notes that the lack of fatty cells will lead to a disruption of the menstrual cycle and especially ovulation because it will affect the follicle-stimulating hormone.
Experts say the effects of anorexia are both short and long-term.
According to them, there are immediate physical effects, as the body struggles to function without the nutrients and fuel that it needs.