About anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a serious psychiatric disorder characterized by low body weight, fear of weight gain and a seeming indifference to the seriousness of the illness. Anorexia nervosa occurs in about 1% of the population and affects females and males of all ages.

Facts and figures about anorexia nervosa

• Anorexia nervosa is not a choice. Anorexia nervosa is not about physical appearances and wanting to achieve a societal thin ideal.
Anorexia nervosa is a serious biologically based mental illness that robs millions of women and men worldwide of their lives every year.
• Anorexia afflicts approximately 1% of the population.
• Women are between five to nine times more likely to develop anorexia nervosa than men.
• Although adolescent and young adult women are most commonly afflicted, it can strike at any time. Anorexia does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
• Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness — about 5 per cent per decade.
• Individuals with anorexia nervosa are over 18 times more likely to commit suicide than their peers.
• Anorexia nervosa is heritable; genes play a role.
• We have identified no medications that are effective in the treatment of anorexia nervosa.
• Family based treatment is the treatment of choice for youth with anorexia nervosa.
• We know less about best practices for the treatment of anorexia nervosa in adults.
• Of those who survive, about 25% of individuals with anorexia nervosa make a full recovery, about 50% experience remission with some lingering symptoms, and 25% develop a chronic unremitting course.
• Eating disorders affect nearly 4 times as many children and adolescents as diabetes and 11 times as many children as cancer.