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Sunday, June 21, 2009

What You Need to Learn About Anorexia Nervosa

Sunday, June 21, 2009
Anorexia nervosa is a serious, often chronic, eating disorder. People with anorexia nervosa view themselves as overweight, even though they are often dangerously thin.

For someone with this condition, eating becomes an obsession. Often, unusual or particular eating habits, and other weight control habits develop. These can include:

* avoiding food
* avoiding meals
* picking out a few foods and eating only these foods in small quantities
* carefully weighing and portioning food
* repeatedly checking body weight
* intense and compulsive exercise
* purging by means of vomiting
* abuse of laxatives, enemas, and diuretics

Anorexia is far more common in girls, and an estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of females suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime.


Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:

* Resistance to staying at a body weight that is at or above the minimum healthy weight for age and height
* Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight
* Disturbance in the way in which one's body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight
* Delayed onset of first menstrual period
* Infrequent or absent menstrual periods (in females who have reached puberty)

The course and outcome of anorexia nervosa depend on the person. Some fully recover after a single episode. Other people suffer up and downs in weight gain and relapses into anorexia. Finally, a third group have the most severe form of the condition, with chronically deteriorating health over time.

Anorexia is dangers -- and sometimes fatal. The mortality rate among people with anorexia has been estimated at 0.56 percent per year, or approximately 5.6 percent per decade, which is about 12 times higher than the annual death rate due to all causes of death among females 15-24 in general. The most common causes of death are complications of anorexia such as cardiac arrest or electrolyte imbalance, and suicide.