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Limitations of the study and Theoretical Foundation on Eating Disorders

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    Today in this fast moving global world many as one in one hundred women have anorexia, and four in one hundred women have bulimia. This is especially the young adult women who are at a greater risk because they face the additional pressures to perform both academically and socially. Therefore as a result they develop eating disorders oriented towards attaining perfection. While striving to attain perfection, they places strong values on the on physical appearance based on the self reports of various eating disorder symptoms. Therefore in this respect of development of eating disorders amongst young adult women in our society today, this research paper shall seek to finding out the limitations that engulfs the past studies.

    1.0 Introduction

    In this modernized world, most women have a perception that they do use to evaluate their worthy in the society. Therefore for a civilized and modern woman, success, beauty and acceptance is evaluated on the basis of their body thinness. Thus the culture of modern world has put great emphasis on the body image and thinness as core to the development of eating disorders.  In this regard, Eating disorders occur when there is a disturbance of eating habits or weight control behavior, which results in a clinically significant impairment of physical health or psychosocial functioning or both impairments (Foulks, 1998, pp. 78).

    In this respect, it is a point of worthy to mention that in most current studies eating disorders are categorized into three diagnostic classes. These classes are; bulimia nervosa which results from restricted food intake and binges often resulting in purging behaviors. Secondly, anorexia nervosa resulting from weight loss by severely limited food intake. And thirdly, eating disorders not otherwise specified like binge eating disorder or any other disorder that differs from anorexia or bulimia. However both three categories of the eating disorders are excluding obesity are characterized by body weight and shape.

    1.1 Background

    Researchers have established that that many women are dissatisfied with their bodies and have a negative body image due to their perception of the cultural standard of the society. Furthermore, women have opinion as to whether or not they meet this cultural standard relative to the opinions of other members of that culture. As a result internal and external pressures based on the cultural opinions forms major influence in the development of eating disorders. Therefore this has been point of contention to whether the entire methodologies used to evaluate these opinions are validity in relation to its outcomes of the finding.

    1.2 Literature Review

    According to the past studies conducted in the past about the eating disorders, focuses on the impact that cultural norms, perceptions and expectations have on the value of beauty and attractiveness. Therefore this literature focuses on the idea that society perception about beauty, success and acceptance is gauged on the body thinness of a woman. Thus this category of literature places emphasis on the fact that this societal set standard is the cause of eating disorders.

    While another category of psychological researchers have developed more complex studies that has investigated perceptions between oneself and those of the other sex add to increased body dissatisfaction and risk for eating disorders. For instance many women within the society today assumes that members of the other sex (male) desire women with smaller bodies rather than larger ones. Thus in other words subsequent messages from peers and sex preferences have been rated as one of several significant factors in the body image of males and females. This category of literature review suggests that cultural beliefs and attitudes about body image play a key role in the development of eating disorders. Empirically, in US culture places a high standard on body image and attractiveness as important factors in measuring the individual’s success.

    Thus failure to achieve that for a young woman it raises concerns, (Foulks, 1998, pp. 201) therefore many women develops eating disorders in attempt to attain this standards. This have been further been made worse by role of the media impression on the ideal beauty which have a negative effect on the females in their attempt to attain that ideal beauty.

    2.0 Definition of terms

    Within the scope and study of mental disorders there are three diagnosable disorders that are under eating disorders. These are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and NOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) (Lask, Bryant, 2000, pp. 43). Thus the definition of all this disorders and other relevant terms used are as follows;

    Anorexia nervosa; this is an eating disorder characterized by a refusal to maintain a minimally normal bodyweight by a patient through starving, excessive exercises

    Body Image; This describes the extent to which one’s thoughts, actions and attention focus on looks or reliance on physical appearance to define one’s sense of self (Reiger, 1998, pp. 25).

    Body Dissatisfaction; this is dissatisfaction with overall shape and size of body parts or regions like buttocks, thighs, hips and Stomach  (Money, 1994, pp. 65).

    Bulimia nervosa; Is an eating disorder that is characterized by repeated episodes of binge eating by a patient which is followed by inappropriate compensatory behaviors such as laxative misuse or self-induced vomiting.

    Drive for Thinness; this is fear of gaining body weight or intense drive to be thinner or preoccupation with body weight  (Schwartz, 1987, pp. 162).

    Ethnic identity; this is the level of identification with group of reference or an ethnic group.

    Eating disorders; these are disorders characterized by disturbances in eating behavior such as bingeing and purging, starvation and excessive exercise (Foulks, 1998, pp. 78).

    Gender; construction of role and identity socially rather than sexually; the conviction of maleness and femaleness; and cultural construction of masculine and feminine.

    3.0 Limitation of the Study

    This is the central point of the research paper. In this perspective the studies on the eating disorders have been and are still limited by the following:

    3.1 Respondentat’s

    First and foremost is the fact that these researches have been intrinsically limited by the fact that participation in research is based upon participant’s response. Therefore most of the researches on the study might have been put to question (Franko, 2008, pp. 251). This is because respondents based factors influences the feedback and henceforth the reliability and validity of the research. Thus factors such as social and economic status, education, age, gender, race or ethnicity, religion and parental status such like education, occupation and economic status.

    3.2 Researcher’s

    Secondly, the limitations in the studies have resulted from the researcher’s perspective. In this regard, the researchers study sample selection predetermines the outcome which has been used as a basis for the study. For instance the most literature review available are based on the selected group findings then generalized to the entire women population (see appended documentation fig.1). Example is studies conducted to young adult women in Campus Universities with varied social cultural perspective to other social carders in the society. This is in terms of perception, attitudes and behavior.

    3.3 Methodological and technical limitations

    The methodological design that is used to measure construct of the eating disorders are quite lacking in some aspect to adequately give a reliable and valid measure of the construct. For instance the measure of the Body Dissatisfaction subscale, Drive for Thinness subscale .and Contour Drawing Rating Scale.both relies on the co relational studies which are limited to the items and persons involved to their opinions (Franko, 2008, pp. 141).

    4.0 Theoretical framework

    The current study on the eating disorders, identity formation amongst the young women and ethnicity are interlinked with the historical perspective. Therefore theoretical foundation of eating disorders is rooted in the models of identity and ego identity (Orosan, 2005, pp. 327). Therefore this theoretical foundation as a theoretical frame work set for the research of the patients with eating disorders leaves out vital tools that would be useful to add to the reliability of the outcome of researcher.

    For instance the vital parts that are not incorporated in the theoretical foundation are the neurological factors, social environmental factors, psychological factors and genetic factors. This left out factors greatly affects the patient’s behavior which may be misperceived to be eating disorder. Therefore on that ground the theoretical foundation is limited to fully give credible results hence the researcher’s outcomes.

    5.0 Conclusion and discussion

    The three eating disorders classified as most literature and past researches puts them to be might not really skyrocket as it is today. This is because there are various pitfalls in the conducted studies that the study on the eating disorders relies on.  This are mentioned as researcher’s limitation, limitation due to respondent participatory part, technical and methodological approach to the study and the theoretical foundation of that is based on the models of identity and ego identity that does not encompass neurological factors, social environmental factors, psychological factors and genetic factors.

    6.0 Recommendations for future researchers

     For future studies, the following should be observed to enhance credibility of the results.

    6.1 Sample selection

    The study sample should be inclusive of cross cultural persons not only a few individuals’ within a region or institution and then results generalized.

    6.2 Technical parameters

    Constructs for measuring the categories of eating disorders should be updated to increase sufficiency up to 98% to 99% rather than the present 92%. Through checking of pitfalls that reduce that efficiency.

    6.3 Theoretical framework

    The theoretical foundations for the studies related to the study of eating disorders should incorporate the neurological factors, social environmental factors, psychological factors and genetic factors. To enhance accuracy of the study outcomes.

    7.0 Appended Documentation

              Figure1.An Example of Description of the Sample used to conduct researches

    A sample of 118 female college students,

    59.3% White females (n = 70) from the larger White university

    40.7% Black females (n = 48) from the smaller historically Black university.

    The sample was largely Christian (50%), college sophomores (41.5%),

    Human science majors (29.7%), with a mean age of 19.01 years (36.4%).

    Participants were largely from families whose parents annual income was above $65,000 (53.9%).

    As for parent‘s occupation and education, the samples mothers‘ had bachelor‘s degrees (31.4%) and in professional occupations (34.7%).

    The fathers’ of the sample were mostly high school graduates (29.9%), and in professional occupations (30.8%).

    Henceforth analysis was performed to determine differences between the two groups on


    Orosan Peter, (2005), Assessment of body image in eating disorders; New York Routledge.

    Lask, B. and Bryant-Waugh, R. (2000), Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence. Hove: Psychology Press

    Schwartz, R. C., (1987) Working with “Internal and External” Families in the Treatment of Bulimia. Family Relations, Vol. 36, No. 3

    Money, J. (1994), The concept of gender identity disorder in childhood and adolescence after 39 years. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 20

    Reiger, D. A. (2008). “Limitations of diagnostic criteria and assessment instruments for mental disorders”. Archives of General Psychiatry, vol. 55, pp.109

    Foulks, E. (1998). Personality disorders and culture: Clinical and conceptual interactions. New York: Wiley.

    Franko, D. (1998). The prevention of eating disorders: Empirical, methodological, and conceptual considerations. Boston, Blackwell.


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