Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is an eating disorder where people starve themselves and suffer extreme weight loss. Anorexics have a tremendous fear of becoming overweight. This fear is what drives their eating disorder. Anorexia causes extreme weight loss usually down to around 15% below a healthy body weight. Even after individuals suffering from this disorder are severely underweight, they continue to believe they are overweight, even as they become very ill and near death. Laxatives, excessive exercise, and starvation diets are the common methods of weight loss. The more food is decreased, the more exercise is increased. This condition occurs when an individual values exercise more than eating healthily. Studies estimate that approximately 75% of people with anorexia nervosa have activity anorexia as a co condition.


  • Loss of three consecutive menstrual periods
  • Refusing to eat in public
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Compulsive calorie counting to the point of obsession
  • Brittle skin
  • Weakness
  • Body weight non congruent with age and height
  • Pregnancy complications, including miscarriages and premature birth

If you suspect a family member or someone you know of having anorexia you should encourage them to see an eating disorder specialist. As with most eating disorders, you will probably encounter resistance, anger, and denial.

Medical Risks:

  • Shrunken bones
  • Mineral loss
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Low body temperature
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Stress fractures
  • Loss of coordination
  • Stunted growth
  • Osteoporosis

External Resources

US Department of Health & Human Services Overview of Anorexia Nervosa
Wikipedia documentation on Anorexia Nervosa
National Alliance on Mental Illness Overview of Anorexia Nervosa
National Eating Disorders Association Overview of Anorexia Nervosa
American Academy of Family Physicians Overview of Anorexia Nervosa Overview of Anorexia Nervosa
Mayo Clinic Overview of Anorexia Nervosa
WebMD Overview of Anorexia Nervosa
Medline Plus Overview of Anorexia Nervosa