Complications may include osteoporosis, infertility and heart damage, among others.Anorexia often begins following a major life change or stress-inducing event. The severity of disease is based on body mass index (BMI) in adults with mild disease having a BMI of greater than 17, moderate a BMI of 16 to 17, severe a BMI of 15 to 16, and extreme a BMI less than 15.Often they weigh themselves frequently, eat only small amounts, and only eat certain foods.Some will exercise excessively, force themselves to vomit, or use laxatives to produce weight loss.Another hypothesis is that anorexia nervosa is more likely to occur in populations in which obesity is more prevalent, and results from a sexually selected evolutionary drive to appear youthful in populations in which size becomes the primary indicator of age.
The results of the Minnesota Starvation Experiment showed normal controls exhibit many of the behavioral patterns of anorexia nervosa (AN) when subjected to starvation.This may be due to the numerous changes in the neuroendocrine system, which results in a self-perpetuating cycle.Some people have a previous disorder which may increase their vulnerability to developing an eating disorder and some develop them afterwards.Studies have hypothesized the continuance of disordered eating patterns may be epiphenomena of starvation.
While medications do not help with weight gain, they may be used to help with associated anxiety or depression.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by attempts to lose weight, to the point of starvation.