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Is Anorexia Model Behavior?

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"Britain's Next Top Model" features an openly anorexic contestant, Jade McSorley. Will her appearance raise awareness or just perpetuate the disorder?

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Jade McSorely is skinny. Really skinny. The young model who appears on the new season of "Britain's Next Top Model" weighs in at ninety pounds and stands 5'9" tall. A rail-thin model is no surprise -- but what is a shock is that McSorley has openly admitted she suffers from anorexia.

The Sun reports the 21-year-old has been battling the eating disorder since the age of eight, and last year was even hospitalized because of her condition.

The producers of the popular British program believe that Jade's participation in the show will help McSorley get access to the help she needs. But others criticize the show for featuring a woman who perpetuates a negative body image in young women.

Aspiring models aren't the only ones who battle with body image issues, and anorexia isn't the only by-product of a media determined to promote ultra-skinny women as ideal.

"Today we are seeing a really broad range of eating disordered behavior, including extreme dieting, over-exercise, and skipping meals. While not all teens reach the point of having an anorexia or bulimia diagnosis, millions of them do fall into those gray areas," says Claire Mysko, author of Girls Inc. Presents: You're Amazing! A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self. "The bottom line is that if your child's thoughts about food and weight are preventing her from feeling good about herself and enjoying her life, that is enough of a sign to seek help from a professional."

We spoke with Dr. David B. Herzog, author of Unlocking the Mysteries of Eating Disorders, momlogic friend Counseling Mom, Roseanne Tobey, L.P.C., and Claire Mysko, who is also founder of Inside Beauty, for important warning signs that parents can look for in teens who may be suffering from bulimia or anorexia.

5 Top Signs of Anorexiaor Bulimia:

1.Extreme food restriction:The teen has a drastic change in her eating habits. For instance, she is only willing to accept really small portions, and then pushes them around the plate instead of eating them.

2.Perceives her body or parts of her body as extremely large when that is not the case:This may result in a change in clothing style. A daughter who has lost a lot of weight and is now wearing baggy clothing.

3.Disappearance of food from refrigerator or pantry:Bingers usually binge in secret, so keep an eye out for pantries or fridges that have been emptied of their contents, as well as large amounts of empty food wrappers either in the garbage or stashed in some out-of-the-way place.

4. Excessive, compulsive exercise: An obsession with exercising -- for instance, several times a day, or to the point of complete exhaustion.

5.Extreme weight loss or marked fluctuations in weight:Dramatic weight loss can be a sign of anorexia, but it is important to remember that not all eating disorders result in weight loss. Many bulimics are normal weight and they can even be overweight. That doesn't make their eating disordered behavior any less dangerous. Watch out for frequent trips to the bathroom after meals and excessive exercise (specifically, increased discussion about needing to burn off calories). If you find any evidence that your child has been abusing laxatives or diet pills, confront her immediately.

The earlier a patient is diagnosed with and treated for an eating disorder, the more likely they will recover completely. However, according to Walden, one of the country's leading hospitals for treating eating disorders, prolonged bouts with bulimia and anorexia that go untreated can result in osteoporosis, retarded growth, kidney problems, ulcers, heart failure, and even death.

For more information about teens and eating disorders, visit the Harris Center for Eating Disordersor Walden Hospital.

Do you think Jade should be allowed on "Britain's Next Top Model," or is this sending the wrong message to girls?

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