Last updated: 4 January 2021
What is anorexia nervosa?
Anorexia nervosa is a type of eating disorder that affects the bodyweight because the person restricts the amount of food that they eat. This is also due to an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted view of their body shape.
An eating disorder is not a lifestyle or a personal choice. It is a complex illness that needs specialist treatment. Although it is more common in young adolescent girls, it can affect people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and background.
It is important to recognize the signs of anorexia nervosa early on. If left untreated, this disorder can lead to death due to starvation or suicide.
Causes of anorexia nervosa
There is no specific cause for eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. It is likely due to a combination of genetic, neurobiological, psychosocial and sociocultural factors. These are listed below:
Being overweight as a child
Being in a society, group or workplace that emphasizes the need to be slim (e.g. dance group, modelling, athletics)
Having a tendency for perfectionism
Bullying/criticism about body-shape or eating habits
Family history of an eating disorder, psychiatric disorder or substance misuse
History of sexual abuse