Anorexia nervosa is a type of eating disorder in which individuals tend to restrict what kinds of food they eat as well as their caloric intake. They may also binge eat, purge by inducing vomiting or using laxatives, as well as exercise compulsively. Other potential hallmarks may include a distorted body image, weight loss, and having a hard time staying at an appropriate body weight for one’s stature and age. In growing children, anorexia could manifest as a child not being able to gain the appropriate amount of weight. There are a variety of symptoms and health risks associated with the disease.
Who Gets Anorexia?
The National Eating Disorders Associated has compiled the results of several studies and reviews all in one place. Some statistics they present based on these studies include:
- An ongoing study conducted in Minnesota has found that women between the ages of 15 and 24 have seen an increase in anorexia over the last 50 years, while incidences were stable among men and other age groups.
- Young people suffering from anorexia who are between the ages of 15 and 24 have a tenfold risk of death when compared to peers of the same age.
- Men make up about 25% of those suffering from anorexia nervosa. They are also at a higher risk of mortality, partially because they tend to be diagnosed later due to gender bias against men with eating disorders.
- At any given moment, about 0.1% of young men and 0.3-0.4.% of young women will suffer from anorexia nervosa.
- Overall, between 0.1 and 0.3% of men will develop anorexia, while 0.9 and 2.0% of women will develop it.
- Of those who have anorexia, about two-thirds also showed signs of an anxiety disorder many years before their eating disorder began.
- Between 32 and 39% of individuals diagnosed with anorexia nervosa are also diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
- Up to 69% of patients suffering from anorexia nervosa also had a coexisting obsessive compulsive disorder diagnosis.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, anorexia nervosa is not a disease that can be diagnosed just by taking a look at someone; they do not have to be underweight or emaciated to be struggling with the disorder. Furthermore, studies have shown that individuals with larger bodies can also have anorexia, though doctors may be less likely to diagnose them because of our culture’s prejudice against being overweight. And while it tends to develop during one’s adolescence, there are more and more older adults and children being diagnosed with the disease. It is important to remember that anyone can develop anorexia and other eating disorders regardless of their gender, age, and background.
How to Get Help
Anorexia is a serious yet treatable disease, though everyone’s treatment plan will depend on their particular situation. If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, there are several hotlines you can reach out to, as well as resources for treatment centers across the United States. We are also here to help you at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You may contact us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.