Supporting Loved Ones With Anorexia

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What Is Anorexia?


Anorexia (also called anorexia nervosa), is an eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of being overweight and a distorted perception of one’s body. 

Common Symptoms

Common Symptoms are starvation/inordinate exercise, in the obsessive pursuit to attain a below healthy body weight. 

Physical Effects of Anorexia

Anorexia can lead to a variety of dangerous effects, as the human body attempts to survive with its insufficient nutrients and calories. 

Sensible Effects Include:

  • Gastrointestinal Ailments (such as constipation, acid reflux, stomach cramps, etc)

  • Abnormal Pains

  • Low Heart Rates

  • Development of Seizures

  • Insomnia

  • Lightheadedness

  • Dizziness

  • Fainting

  • Swelling of the Hands/Feet

  • Poor Immune Function

  • Extreme Irritability

  • Brittle NailsDry/Brittle Hair

  • Increased Facial Hair

  • Dy Skin

  • Muscle Weakness

  • Poor Dental HygieneNumbness

  • Loss of Blood Pressure

  • Low Body Temperature (possibly even hypothermia)

  • Menstrual Irregularities

  • Infertility

  • Fragile Bones

  • Yellow Skin

  • Poor Wound Healing

Anorexia Statistics and Demographics


“Over 70% of those who suffer with eating disorders will not seek treatment due to stigma.” – National Eating Disorders Association

Eating Disorder Statistics - NEDA Week 2020 | Eating Recovery Center

Anorexia is a severe mental illness with a higher mortality rate than any other mental illness. 60% of mortalities related to anorexia are sudden cardiac arrest, organ failure, or suicide. 20% of anorexia mortalities are due to suicide. Anorexia-nervosa is severely dangerous and recognizing it, as early as possible, is vital.

Genetics Make Up 50-80% of the Risk for Anorexia

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If your family has a history of anorexia-nervosa, it is likely to occur with-in another family member.


Anorexia Often Starts During Adolescents


Anorexia can start at any age but most often it starts around the teenage years to young adulthood. With that said, anorexia is not unrare in kids and pre-teens. According to ANAD statistics 

  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
  • 81% of 10-year-old children are afraid of being fat.
  • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.
  • 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives.










Co-Morbidity of Anorexia 

A study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health collected information on lifetime anorexia petients. It was found that 47.9% of the patients had an anxiety disorder, 42.1% had a Mood Disorder, 30.8% had an impulse control disorder, 27.0% had a substance disorder, 56.2% had a disorder. Anorexia may often be a co-morbid eating disorder working in tandem with a core mental health disorder.




Visible Signs for Anorexia

  • Dramatic weight loss

  • Dresses in layers to hide weight loss or stay warm

  • Is preoccupied with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting

  • Refuses to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole food categories

  • Makes frequent comments about feeling overweight

  • Complains of constipation, abdominal pain, cold intolerance, lethargy, and/or excess energy

  • Denies feeling hungry

  • Loss or thinning of hair

  • Engages in food rituals (e.g., eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing, rearranging food on a plate, cutting food into tiny pieces, eating alone, hiding food, or vomiting after eating)

  • Cooks meals for others without eating

  • Development of soft hair on face and body (lanugo)

  • Consistently makes excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food

  • Maintains an excessive, rigid exercise regimen – despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury 

  • Withdraws from usual friends and activities and becomes more isolated, withdrawn, and secretive

  • Seems concerned about eating in public

  • Limits their social interaction

  • Resists or is unable to maintain a bodyweight appropriate for their age, height, and build 

  • Has intense fear of weight gain or being “fat,” even though underweight

  • Has warped perception of body weight or shape 

  • Postpuberty female loses menstrual period

  • Feels ineffective

  • Fatigue

  • Has a strong need for control

  • Shows inflexible thinking

  • Has overly restrained initiative and emotional expression

  • Dry skin, hair, and nails

  • Poor dental hygiene

  • Sleep issues

Call To Action

How Can We Help Those With Anorexia?

#1 Recognize

Recognize if a person may have Anorexia using the criteria above. Not all the criteria may be met, that doesn’t rule out a person suffering from anorexia-nervosa. If the criteria above is too much to remember, use the 3 step criteria to recognize eating disorders from The National Eating Disorders Association. Please note the NEDA criteria is not absolute. If a person doesn’t meet any of the steps, than he or she may still have an eating disorder.


  1. Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health.
  2. Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight.
  3. 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.


#2 Comfort

Anorexia is most often a coping mechanism for powerful, painful emotional issues. You cannot force anorexia out of a person. Offering support, comfort, and understanding can be a giant help. 


#3 Encourage Help

Finally and most importantly encourage help. anorexia-nervous is a mental health disorder and in order to treat it, the sufferer should find professional, medical mental health help.


Organizations Dedicated to Helping 


The National Eating Disorders Associations (NEDA)


  • NEDA is “the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders”. 

  • NEDA offers screenings for eating disorders

  • NEDA offers resources to find treatments for eating disorders

  •  NEDA offers help hotlines

    • The text and call hotline – (800) 931-2237

    • “For crisis situations, text “NEDA” to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer at Crisis Text Line.” –


Project Heal

  • Project Heal offers help to those who cannot attain access to treatments for their eating disorders.
  • Project Heal has, “the largest network of facilities and providers at every level of care – including inpatient, residential, partial-hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment centers as well as eating disorder specialized therapists, dietitians, and coaches.”
  • Project Heal offers free treatments to individuals who are uninsured or underinsured
  • Project Heal offers assistance for navigating insurance and advocation for insurance to cover an individual’s eating disorder. 
  • Project Heal offers cash assistance for treatments and insurance 


  • ANAD is a nonprofit dedicated to sufferers of eating disorders
  • ANAD offers free peer support services
  • ANAD offers support mentors
  • ANAD offers support groups
  • ANAD offers a treatment directory to various mental health proffesionals
  • ANAD offers an eating disorder help hotline
    • (888)-375-7767

 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL)

  •  1-800-273-TALK


National Institute of Mental Health

  • The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is an institute of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that focuses on or biomedical and health-related research. 
  • The NIMH website offers amble, well researched, data and statistics for mental illnesses and disorders

Audience Feedback 

  1. What Could Use More Elaboration?
  2. What Else Would Like to Know About Anorexia-Nervosa?



Beat. “Tips for Supporting Somebody with an Eating Disorder.” Beat Eating Disorders, Beat Eating Disorders,

Contributor. “Anorexia Facts & Statistics.” Eating Recovery Center,

Contributor. “How to Help a Loved One.” National Eating Disorders Association, NEDA, 31 July 2018,
Contributor. “The Prevalence of Eating Disorders in America.” Behavioral Nutrition, 20 Sept. 2018,

Gerhardt, Linda. “Anorexia Statistics and Studies.” Center For Discovery, Center for Discovery, 7 Feb. 2020,




I'm just good like that.


  1. Hi Miles! Awesome job on this project. Something that I particularly liked was the amount of numerical data you provided. It was very interesting to see how all the data you compiled connected and supported each other. You also organized your thoughts very well, using bullet points instead of paragraphs in certain areas. Something that I feel could use more elaboration includes your point on comfort, under your “Call to Action” section. You mention that “Offering support, comfort, and understanding can be a giant help.” What does this look like? Offering them reassurance? Giving them space? Providing physical affection?

    1. thanks my main man you the best

  2. Bro your website be straight fire kinda like you if must say

    1. thanks bro your not too bad looking yourself

      1. sheesh!!!!
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