The Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Japan

A trending article on my Facebook newsfeed caught my eye last night. The article was written in regards to the hugely problematic amount of women in Japan suffering from various eating disorders, and their inability to locate and access aid. The article briefly touched upon how many women with eating disorders in Japan are shunned from receiving mental and physical medical attention because their conditions are not taken seriously. This finding deeply startled me, so I proceeded to do some research of my own on the issue.

According to an article I read written by Georgia Hanias (a snapshot of her article is the image posted alongside this post), the amount of women in Japan with eating disorders is so vast and so incredulous that hospitals would not have enough room for any other individuals if they were to provide these suffering women with medical care and hospitality.

Hanias references Dr. Aya Nishizono-Maher in her article, a psychiatrist who works at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science and Department of Clinical Child Psychiatry. Nishizono-Maher specializes in eating disorders in the clinic. Hanias quotes the doctor in her article: “In fact, Japan’s first reported case of Anorexia was in 1788- almost 100 years before the first case was identified in the UK. But there was an Anorexia and Bulimia boom in Europe and America during the 60’s and 70’s that Japan never experienced.”

Hanias goes further in her exploration of this issue in Japan and references Dr. Hiroyuki Suematsu in her article, a professor of clinical psychology at Nagoya University. Hernias quotes Suematsu in his statement that Japan’s Anorexia Nervosa rate is actually 10 times higher in the country than it was 30 years ago. Suematsu is also quoted as explaining that 40 years ago there were zero cases of Bulimia reported in Japan, though today Bulimia is the most prevalent eating disorder in the country.

Hanias states in her article that women in Japan today are consuming lesser calories than they did during the Second World War.

I personally feel as though a major contributing factor to the issue of eating disorders in Japan is a result of the tremendous influence social media has in the country. Women in Japanese media are depicted as immensely youthful, extremely thin and as simply unrealistic in numerous regards, so it is arguable that media is a definite culprit behind this epidemic in the country.

I think having articles such as these trending globally on Facebook are definitely a step in the right direction. Awareness is key in terms of mental health issues such as eating disorders, and I believe that exposing the prevalence of this issue in Japan will trigger a positive reaction amongst other countries dealing with the same issues. Always educate yourself and be conscious of the malevolent impacts media can have on an individual.

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