Margie Hodgin

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Margie Hodgin, a nurse in Kernersville, N.C., had struggled to lose weight since she was a teenager. But it wasn’t until she turned 40 that she finally took off the extra pounds, and then some. “It was a real sense of empowerment, that I can do this all on my own and no one is helping me, and I’m achieving what I want and fitting into my clothes better,” she said of her initial delight in shedding the excess weight. But what started as discipline transformed into disorder. Ms. Hodgin would not eat more than 200 calories a meal, and if she did, she made herself vomit. She surfed pro-ANA, or pro-anorexia, Web sites for advice. She knew that what she was doing was wrong — more like adolescent, she said — but she figured she was only hurting…show more content…
“Eating disorders creep up during periods of developmental transitions, so the peak had been 13 to 15 and 17 to 19 — moving into adolescence and moving into college. Now, we are seeing them again during or after pregnancy and as women hit other life phases, such as empty nesting.” No one knows what triggers eating disorders. Emerging studies point to altered brain signals, but it is tricky to decipher whether the defective biochemistry is a cause or a result of poor eating. The reigning theory is the same as it is for so many syndromes with no known cause: some people are born with genes that make them highly vulnerable to environmental stimuli. “Genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger,” is what the experts always say at the eating disorder conferences, said Caitlin Scafati, a recovered anorexic. And yet no one has identified the genes. Gail Schoenbach, a 48-year-old mother of three from Warren, N.J., said she had been bulimic since she was 18 but did not get treatment until her 40s, when her friends alerted her husband and he started calling treatment centers. “I was very embarrassed and scared and humiliated and ashamed that I had lied about it,” she

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