Anorexia nervosa is a type of eating disorder characterized by weight loss and, at times, distorted body image. Weight loss is normally characterized by difficulties maintaining an appropriate body weight for height, age, and stature. Individuals usually restrict the number of calories and the types of food eaten. Anorexia can affect people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races, and ethnicities. It is the third most common chronic disease among young people, after asthma and diabetes (type 1).
Eating disorder symptoms are beginning earlier in both males and females. Yes, males can get diagnosed with an eating disorder as well, with 25% of them represented in anorexia nervosa. They have a higher risk of dying due to late reporting because of stigma.
Although the disorder most frequently begins during adolescence, children and older adults are also diagnosed with anorexia. Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 with anorexia have 10 times the risk of dying compared to their same-aged peers. Also, underweight individuals are not the only ones who are diagnosed with anorexia. Larger-bodied individuals are diagnosed with anorexia as well. Cultural prejudices against fat and obesity have caused low numbers in diagnosis.
Atypical individuals are people that don’t otherwise meet a specific diagnostic criteria. For example, individuals who meet the criteria for anorexia but who are not underweight despite significant weight loss are considered atypical.
Diagnostic criteria for Anorexia:
- Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements. These restrictions lead to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health.
- Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though individual is underweight.
- Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced. Also, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight.