Anorexia nervosa: Overview

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Find out how anorexia nervosa can occur and who is most likely to be affected by it.

Key points

  • Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder caused by a biological disorder of the brain that leads to a distorted body image and under-eating to maintain an unhealthy low weight.
  • People with anorexia nervosa have an overpowering fear of being overweight and an extreme desire to be thin. They may have a distorted body image and engage in behaviours that will result in weight loss.
  • Anorexia nervosa arises from a mix of social factors, stressful life events and genetics.
  • Anorexia nervosa usually affects girls aged 13 to 15 years; but, in recent years, it has started to affect more boys and younger children.
Last updated: September 12th 2023