What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which people obsess about their weight and what they eat. They maintain a body weight well below what’s normal for their height and age, often through starving or excessive exercise. Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among teen girls according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

Anorexia signs include:

  • Obsessing over weight and diet
  • Eating tiny portions, refusing to eat, not being hungry
  • Avoiding fat, sugar and meat
  • Intense fear of being or becoming fat
  • Feeling fat even though thin
  • Unusual eating habits
  • Exercising too much
  • Depression and low self-esteem
    • Withdrawing from family or friends
    • Perfectionism
    • Feeling “huge” after eating small portion and possibly purging

Anorexia nervosa symptoms include:

  • Unhealthy weight loss (more than 15% of body weight or much weight loss in a short span of time)
  • Stomachaches, headaches, dizziness, fainting
  • Feeling cold much of the time
  • Constipation
  • Loss of muscles
  • Loss of menstrual periods
  • Weakening of bones
  • Heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature below normal
  • Dehydration
  • Brittle hair and nails, hair loss