Being anorexic means a person refuses to eat enough food to maintain their correct body weight. Whilst having no physical reason why they are restricting their food, they are driven to continue to lose weight.
Sufferers have an intense fear of gaining weight and have a distorted body image - they sincerely believe they are fat, despite becoming thinner. Far more women than men become anorexic.
The side effects of anorexia can be severe:in girls and women, periods may stop as weight loss continues. Other physical symptoms include feeling cold, the growing of extra body hair, having very dry skin, feeling dizzy and fainting.
Anorexia is a very serious illness and has a significant death rate, so it's extremely important to see a doctor if you think you may have this condition. Sufferers are often in denial and may argue that there's nothing the matter with them. If you are worried about someone it is best not to try to force them to eat but to encourage them to open up about other problem areas in their life. Counselling can help before a dangerous amount of weight has been lost, and is also useful for friends and family to consider for themselves.
Body Mass Index (BMI) indicates how serious the anorexia is and what treatment is needed:
Take your weight in kilos
Take your height in metres and square it (multiply it by itself)
Divide your weight by your height squared
If your BMI is low due to anorexia alone, the following applies
BMI under 15 : you are anorexic and dangerously underweight, seek medical help
BMI 15-17 : anorexic - counselling may help
BMI 18-19: underweight - seek counselling if you are under eating
BMI 20-25: this is the normal range
BMI 25-30: over weight
BMI over 30: obese
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