Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that makes people lose more weight than is considered healthy for their age and height.
Persons with this disorder may have an intense fear of weight gain, even when they are underweight. They may diet or exercise too much, or use other methods to lose weight.
The exact causes of anorexia nervosa are not known. Many factors probably are involved. Genes and hormones may play a role. Social attitudes that promote very thin body types may also be involved.
Family conflicts are no longer thought to contribute to this or other eating disorders.
Risk factors for anorexia include:
Anorexia usually begins during the teen years or young adulthood. It is more common in females, but may also be seen in males. The disorder is seen mainly in white women who are high academic achievers and who have a goal-oriented family or personality.
To be diagnosed with anorexia, a person must:
People with anorexia may severely limit the amount of food they eat, or eat and then make themselves throw up. Other behaviors include:
Other symptoms of anorexia may include: