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Anorexia, Bulimia Strike the Observant

Physical ideals, dietary laws contribute to trend

by
Marc Tracy
January 06, 2011

According to numerous studies, eating disorders are an increasing problem among Orthodox Jewish women. The main problem seems to be that discussing them is taboo. However—believe it or not—religious days of fasting actually aren’t helping matters, either. Perhaps most of all, slim brides are highly prized, while at the same time the suggestion of an eating disorder connotes mental illness, which in turn is strongly stigmatized. Even the laws of kashrut are said to play a role: “You’re already struggling with an eating disorder and now you have all these foods that you can’t eat, it can be very difficult,” argues Philadelphia-based dietitian Jodi Krumholz.

Israel has among the world’s highest rates of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.

In 2008, in Tablet Magazine predecessor Nextbook.org, Abby Ellin reported that eating disorders are the top destructive behavior among Jewish girls.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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