Anorexia is an eating disorder where a person has fear of gaining weight and decides to go on an extreme diet by limiting their food intake. Anorexia is often linked with weight and diet. People who have anorexia are basically obsessed with being thin. They deem that they are fat eventhough they are underweight. People suffering from anorexia are always concerned about the calories they take in and amount of fats that are in their food. They tend to develop a very strict eating schedule or even exercise compulsively to burn off the calories from the food they consumed. As a result, they become thin, and sickly looking, just to get a slimmer body.
Other factors may include hurtful remarks made by family or friends, which can affect their self esteem causing them to feel helpless and extremely depressed to the extent that they force themselves not to eating hoping that they can reach the expectations of their social surrounding. The influence of media which often portrays celebrities to be slim is looked upon and can also be the main cause that drives a person to become anorexic. Anorexia can lead to serious health problems like starvation, dehydration, infections, heart failure and eventually caused death.
In Singapore, out of the total number of residents living here, it states that 13.4% of aged between 15 to 24 are more susceptible to this disorder. In addition, a source states that 20% of people who suffer from anorexia will prematurely die from complications relating to their eating disorder.
Definition and Application of Theory of Planned Behaviour
Theory of Planned Behaviours (TPB) is a theory which helps us to understand the relationship between behavior and behavioral intentions. It explains how a person’s behavior is controlled by behavioral intentions. Behavioural intentions consist three components. It is made up of a person’s attitude towards the behaviour, the subjective norm that affects the performance of the behavior, and lastly how the individual perceive that they are able to perform the behaviour with no difficulty.
Attitude towards the behavior referred to as how the individual’s feels about performing a behavior. It can be either be positive or negative feelings. It can be determined through the evaluation of one’s beliefs regarding the consequences and outcomes that will arise from the behavior that they have carried out. For example, if a person has a positive attitude, they generally have an optimistic view and believe that they can achieve a positive outcome from that behavior. It is more likely that that person will perform the behavior. Likewise, if a person is always pessimistic and always believes that they are not able to perform that particular behavior, high chances that the person will not perform that behaviour.
Subjective norm, on the other hand, refers to the stress and pressure received by the individual from people, such as their family members or friends, on whether a particular behavior should be performed and how much that individual is willing to conform to the wish of others to carry out that behavior.
Lastly, perceived behavioral control refers to the person’s belief and confidence to whether or not they are able to carry out a particular behavior by convincing themselves, or by relating to past behavior to cope or handle the situation well.
For example, for the case of anorexia, individuals tend to regard themselves as fat, especially when they take a look at their reflection in the mirror (Attitude). People used to tease me saying that I looked like a couched potato, and that I was fat, even though I was only 40kg (Subjective Norms). As a result, I would skip breakfast and dinner, and only eat a spoonful of rice for lunch, hoping that it would last me the whole day. This way, I was able to lose weight faster (Perceived Behavioral Control).
In such situations, people tend to follow what others say of them and this indirectly encourages them to lose weight regardless of how thin they may already be. This causes a gradual decrease in appetite, and the affected person ends up starving themselves. Eventually, resulted in anorexia.
Limitations of Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB)
However, though TPB can be used to change a person’s behavior, there are still some limitations such that some individuals are not able to engage in this behavioral change. Some other reasons are that they do not have a positive attitude, they do not know if what they are doing is right or wrong and they are uncertain that this attitude will benefit them. Thus, they refuse to carry out the behavior. Secondly, these individuals lack encouragement from their loved ones. As a result, they do not have the motivation to change. Usually, a negative opinion by others will motivate a person to perform a particular behavior. Lastly, they have no confidence in performing that particular behavior. They are afraid that they are unable to meet the expectations of others and to handle the consequences of the behavior that they performed. Hence, this results in the lack of motivation to change their behaviors.
High Risk Groups of Behavioural Modification
One of the high risk groups who suffer from anorexia is female teenagers. Based on what I have mentioned in the first paragraph, due to peer pressure, teenagers often compare themselves with their peers such that they would compete to be the thinnest among the group. Some would even compare themselves with celebrities and supermodels in advertisements or even magazine which causes them to suffer from low self esteem. Due to the increasing pressure for woman to be thin, it has become the “in-thing” for most of the teenagers. As a result, they often feel fat or ugly easily, and then decide to starve themselves, causing them to become anorexic so that they could fit in and be accepted by their peers.
Another factor that causes someone to have anorexic is when they have just undergone a major transition in life like ending of relationship or even death of their loved ones. A person may feel that they have no control over the things that are happening in their life causing major setbacks like emotional distress which caused them to feel extremely depress. As a result, they refuse to eat as they have no appetite thereby cause a person to become anorexic.
Measures to encourage behavioural change in healthcare setting
In my opinion, I think that healthcare practitioners can encourage behavioural change in anorexic patient by educating the person about the importance of having a proper and balanced meal. They can also provide counseling to these teenagers and advise them to list the likes and dislikes about their body. Through this, a healthcare practitioner can help them to find alternative ways to deal with their problems.
A healthcare practitioner could also ask their client to look at their reflection in the mirror and then remind them repeatedly about all the positive things that they have so that they could focus on the things that are admirable. By giving them positive remarks or praises about their body, can prevent them from thinking about the negativity, thus making them feel good about themselves.
Another way is to show them pictures of anorexic sufferers, and ask questions to make them reflect about their eating habits and to think deeply if they would want to end up like the anorexia sufferers in the pictures. This can help them to get a grasp on the reality of what normal people look. It will also be able to help people regain back their self confidence, self esteem and to be positive about their body.
In conclusion, anorexia does not only affect the body. It could also affect a person’s social life. When a person decides to become anorexic, they tend to decrease their food intake, and overtime, decide not to eat at all. Eventually, they lose more weight than intended due to the desire to look slim and perfect. Hence, it results in them becoming anorexic.