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Eating Disorders

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Eating Disorders

NIH - Medical Encyclopedia Anorexia nervosa

"Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by refusal to stay at even the minimum body weight considered normal for the person's age and height. Other symptoms of the disorder include an intense fear of weight gain and distorted body image. Inadequate eating or excessive exercising results in severe weight loss (see also bulimia and intentional weight loss). The exact cause of anorexia nervosa is not known, but social attitudes towards body appearance, as well as family factors, are believed to play a role in its development. The condition usually occurs in adolescence or young adulthood. It is more common in women, affecting 1-2% of the female population and only 0.1-0.2% of males.


Weight loss of 15% or greater below the expected weight Inappropriate use of laxatives, enemas, or diuretics (water pills) in an effort to lose weight Self-imposed food intake restrictions, often hidden Absence of menstruation Skeletal muscle atrophy Loss of fatty tissue Low blood pressure Dental cavities may be present with self-induced vomiting Blotchy or yellow skin Depression may be present in addition to the eating disorder Most individuals with anorexia nervosa refuse to recognize that they have an eating disorder (denial).

Anorexia nervosa is a serious and potentially deadly medical condition. By some estimates, it leads to death in 10% of cases. Experienced treatment programs have a two-thirds success rate in restoring normal weight, but relapse is common. Women who develop this eating disorder at an early age have a better chance of complete recovery. Most people with anorexia will continue to prefer a lower body weight and be preoccupied with food and calories to some extent, however. Weight management may be difficult, and long-term treatment may be necessary to help maintain a healthy body weight. "

Highlighted Article

Outcomes of eating disorders: A systematic review of the literature. (Int J Eat Disord. 2007)

"... reviewed evidence on factors associated with outcomes among individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and binge eating disorder (BED) RESULTS: At follow up, individuals with AN were more likely than comparisons to be depressed, have Asperger's syndrome and autism spectrum disorders, and suffer from anxiety disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorders. Mortality risk was significantly higher than what would be expected in the population and the risk of suicide was particularly pronounced. The only consistent factor across studies relating to worse BN outcomes was depression."  

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