The Pituitary Gland
The human pituitary gland is about the size of a pea, weighs about 0.5g and is located at the bottom of the hypothalamus at the base of the brain. Despite its small size it has two lobes the anterior and the posterior) which each secrete important metabolic hormones.
As Kayla’s friend, help her deal with a serious health problem. Find out all you can about the dangerous health conditions of anorexia and other eating disorders so that you can convince your friend to get help before she has life-threatening consequences.
Kayla is a 10th grade girl at your school. She used to have lots of friends and lots of fun – in school, after school, and on weekends. She knows she’s not as fun as she used to be. She wasn’t always like this and she knows it.
When she was younger, she could eat anything. She was so thin. But she stopped growing up and she started gaining weight. Her friends could still eat, but she couldn’t. It wasn’t fair that her growth spurt ended before theirs. Now, she had to pretend to fit in.
When she got too many comments about not eating, she said she had a nervous stomach or maybe she was coming down with something. Sometimes she said that the candy bar or sandwich she had earlier made her full. If the pressure was too high, like at a birthday party where she HAD to eat a piece of fattening cake, she ran to the bathroom to vomit. She was only caught once. She blamed it on food poisoning from something she had at lunchtime, and got away with it.
She was good at moving her food around on her plate at home so it looked like she was eating, and she fed her dog bits of food whenever her family wasn’t looking. The dog was also a good excuse for exercising away the few calories she took in. She used to run with him in the afternoon, but now she was just too tired. Why did she have to be so fat!?
Tamara and Keri, Kayla’s best friends, have been nagging her to attend a slumber party to celebrate Keri’s birthday this weekend. She tried to beg off, but her friends wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Kayla had been hiding her body in big hoodies all the time and knew she’d never get away with it at the party. She hoped her friends wouldn’t make fun of her when they saw all the weight she had gained.
What Kayla’s Friends See
Tamara and Keri didn’t know why Kayla didn’t want to come to the party. Had Keri done something to make her mad? She didn’t think so. Tamara said it seemed like Kayla was starting to avoid all her friends. She wasn’t going out much on the weekends, and they didn’t see much of her after school. Tamara said that Kayla wasn’t doing well in the classes they had together.
Keri mentioned that Kayla’s clothes had changed, too. She noticed she was dressing grungier which really hadn’t been her style. Tamara and Keri agreed they’d get to the bottom of these changes over the weekend.
Time For A Reality Check
The girls – even Kayla – were buzzing with excitement as they came shrieking into Keri’s home and flung down their backpacks. First pizza, then movies! They went to the table and noticed Kayla hung back. Keri’s mom handed her a plate with a slice of pepperoni and she refused it, claiming she was still full from lunch. Tamera and Keri knew she had skipped lunch! They kept at her until she ate a bite, but they couldn’t get her to eat more.
As they got into their PJs to start their chick flick all-nighter, Kayla hung back, not changing.
“Come on, Beanpole!”, Keri called, “What’re you waiting for?!”
“I’m not a beanpole anymore”, Kayla replied. “I’ve gotten disgustingly gross and fat.”
“What?!” Tamara said. “No way. Let’s see.”
“Don’t make fun of me. Promise?” Kayla asked.
“Of course not!” they both agreed.
Kayla slowly pulled her sweatshirt over her head her friends gasped. They saw ribs and collar bones. They saw too many bones! Kayla was becoming emaciated.
“See. I told you. I stopped growing last year, and I can’t stop gaining weight. I keep getting fatter and fatter, no matter how little I eat.”
“Kayla, that’s not what I see. You’re skin and bones!” said Keri.
“What are you thinking, Kayla? Have you been sick?” Tamara asked. “You’re much too thin!”
“Oh, stop trying to make me feel better! Let’s just watch the movie.”
How can Kayla’s friends help her? - Research, Seek Counsel, and Propose a Solution
Kayla is in serious trouble. She has stopped eating, she often vomits after she eats, and she has dropped a good percentage of her body fat over the last year.
Her friends know there is something seriously wrong with Kayla - and not just physically. Kayla can’t see herself as she actually is. She’s been starving herself until she has no energy, is doing poorly in school, and is too embarrassed to socialize with her friends. She wears clothes to hide herself. She does it all to look better, but her complexion looks bad and she’s losing her hair!
Your task is to prepare for your conversation with Kayla. What do you think you should say to help your friend with her serious health problem? You know you need to present her with the facts about anorexia and other eating disorders and you know it won’t be easy to convince her of the damage to her body by this risky behavior.
1. Work with a partner and put yourselves in the place of Kayla’s friends. Learn as much as you can about anorexia. You can start by using the resources listed in this module and by finding your own resources from a variety of sources. You may want to talk to the school nurse or counselor or interview some experts in person or over the phone.
2. Present your fictional conversation with Kayla to the class. You should be prepared to answer questions from your teacher that “Kayla” may have.
Guiding Questions for Your Research
1. What are the symptoms of anorexia?
2. What are some of the potential long term complications of this disease?
3. Is anorexia a physical or a mental disease? Think about the symptoms to help guide your research.
4. What body systems are involved in anorexia?
5. What are some possible causes of anorexia?
6. Is anorexia hereditary?
7. What is bulimia?
8. How are bulimia and anorexia related?
9. What is the best advice/help you could offer to someone with anorexia?
10. Describe possible treatments for Kayla’s anorexia.