Food and body:les liaisons dangereuses

Eating disorders: reflection of an inner angst?

ConvivioI was lucky to go to the conference on “body and food” in Milan the 24th of February 2014  that was held within the framework of a course of lectures organized by the foundation of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra entitled “Banquet table: between food and knowledge”. Michela Marzano – Philosophy professor at the Paris V René Descartes University – was invited to speak about her research and her personal experiences.

This conference remembered how food issues that will be at the heart of 2015 Universal Exposition are not only quantitative but also qualitative. Our relation to nutrition has an important social and psychological dimension that often reflects the angst of individuals and societies.

A growing phenomenon

Michela Marzano presented her paradigm to study the link between nutrition and body thru the prism of eating disorders, more particularly anorexia and bulimia.


Those disorders not only regard teenagers (even if they are more concerned, see below) but also children and adults. It’s a growing phenomenon, for instance on the social networks with the “pro ana” movement, that bring together on internet people suffering from mental anorexia where often anorexia can be presented as a type of lifestyle with advices on how stop eating, succeed in vomiting, to sum up how negate your own hunger.

“There is always something missing that torments me.” (Camille Claudel)

I was deeply touched by the testimony of Michela Marzano that related her own experience when she was suffering from anorexia. A period in which hunger didn’t disappear but when privation of food was her only way to attract attention on her “hunger of love and recognition” quoting the Camille Claudel sentence:  “There is always something missing that torments me”.

Key figures on eating disorders in the world:

Anorexia[1] :

  • 9 people over ten affected is a young woman.
  • Very few data at the world level. In the US, mental anorexia is the third chronic illness for teenagers after bulimia and asthma.

And in Italy?

Sources : Italian Health ministry[3], report ” Disturbi del corportamento alimentare (DCA) negli adolescenti e nei giovani adulti., Institut Supérieur de la Santé):

  • Between 3.7% and 6.4% of Italian population will suffer from eating disorders: the medium age of those troubles is 17.
  • Among young girls between 15 to 18 years old, 5% will present eating disorders.
  • The women/men ration is from 9 to 1, but the percentage of men is growing especially for teenager and pre-teenagers.


Image Juliette

[2] Source : OMS, aide-mémoire n°311, mars 2013

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