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news: michael jackson’s death spotlights eating disorders

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Title/Topic: Michael Jackson’s Death Spotlights Eating Disorders
Posted On: 6/28/2009
June 28 2009 ( – The untimely death of musical icon Michael Jackson spotlights eating disorders in general, and for men in particular. Whether Michael Jackson suffered from anorexia, which some call “manorexia” in men, is up to debate. What is not up for debate is whether Jackson had the classic symptoms of the disease.

Anorexia can be a lifelong affliction once it hits. Many people who have developed and then overcome the condition find themselves returning to the mindset and eating habits months or even years later. The Mayo Clinic’s eating disorders page has an excellent list of symptoms of the most common eating disorders.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has an online BMI calculator. A BMI less than 18.5 is considered underweight. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Those with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight. A BMI greater than 30 indicates obesity.

An article published by England’s Times Online in 2005 said that rumors of Jackson’s weight were as low as X.X stone*, which translates to a mere XX lbs* on his 5 foot 11 inch frame. That would translate to a body mass index of only 12.7, which is severely underweight. Dr. Thomas Stuttaford, who wrote the article, said that those with a BMI under 17 “are in need of medical help.”

Dr. Stuttaford also said that abnormal heart rhythms like Jackson’s can be “indicative of a slow transmission of the impulse that triggers the contraction of the chambers of the heart.” He pointed out that “social isolation and withdrawal are features of both anorexia and depression.” Jackson was famous for both those characteristics.

Jackson’s arrest record in 2003 with the Santa Barbara (CA) Sheriff’s Department said his weight was XXX pounds*. That would have made his BMI only 16.7 as he entered one of the most stressful times in his life, facing allegations of child molestation. He was eventually acquitted of those charges.

The Daily Mail in England published an article today by Ian Halperin said that Jackson “became so skeletal, doctors believed he was anorexic.” Halperin was so shocked by Jackson’s appearance that he predicted “last December that Michael had six months to live.” Jackson died six months and one day after the prediction. Halperin wrote that “Jackson had lost an astonishing amount of weight in recent months. His medical team even believed he was anorexic”

Geraldo Rivera of FOX News characterized Jackson as “paranoid” and “addicted” as well as anorexic. He said that Jackson “was at times so thin as to be almost translucent.”

The National Institute of Mental Health says that “The three main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.” NIMH data suggests that only 5 to 15% of anorexics or bulimics are men. As for binge-eating disorder, men make up 35% of those afflicted.

A study done at Columbia University in New York says that “National population-based studies have found that eating disorders affect 1–3% of women and less than 0.5% of men, except for binge eating disorder which was found to affect 2% of the men” studied. That study also found that “Although anorexia and bulimia nervosa occur primarily in women, 5–20% of people with eating disorders are men.” The report also said “Studies suggest that a disproportionate number of these men are gay and bisexual.” The study concludes that “Researchers should study the causes of the high prevalence of eating disorders among gay and bisexual men.”

Although the number of women suffering from eating disorders is much higher than men, the fact remains that eating disorders affect men as well. And, regardless of gender, eating disorders can kill. The long-term deprivation of essential nutrients as well as calories in general associated with anorexia make the human body ill equipped to maintain health. The addition of narcotics and other substances in combination with failing health from an eating disorder can quickly break down anyone, even if they’re a superstar.

For more info: If you or a loved one is exhibiting symptoms of an eating disorder, seek professional help immediately. It’s your life. It’s your body. It’s your health. Investigate everything!


*Weights removed by Pale Reflections

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