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      Eating disorders affect millions

      No matter how hard we try, we can't escape it. The push for physical perfection is everywhere we look. And this desire for improving our image has caused some to spiral into a serious addiction: an eating disorder.

      In the United States alone, up to 24 million people suffer from the disorder, some at an early age, and itâ??s causing some serious health issues.

      Dr. Barbara Washington, a cardiologist at Bellin Health, explains the dilemma.

      â??People don't understand when long-term malnutrition will affect any muscle in the body, but especially the heart,â?? explained Dr. Washington. â??It can lead to a cardiomyopathy, a weak heart muscle, and unfortunately, most of these patients have a poor prognosis and they are dying younger.â??

      Forty-seven percent of 5-12 grade girls reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.

      So what are some of the symptoms of an eating disorder?

      â??Some warning signs of an eating disorder,â?? explained professional counselor Jennifer Gordon, â??are obsessions with food, nutrition, diet, rapid increase or decrease of weight, constant calorie counting or dieting, and compulsive exercise.â??

      Kellie Lehto, a personal trainer, talks about the type of exercise.

      â??All they think about is getting to the gym, training harder, not doing enough, and they start getting very irritable and just tired all the time,â?? explained Lehto.

      With 95 percent of those with the disorder in between the ages of 12 and 25, the problem is one that should not be overlooked.