People with anorexia are obsessed with food and their weight and body shape. They struggle to maintain a weight that is far below normal for their age and height. When a youngster's food restriction causes weight to drop 15% below what is normal, anorexia may be diagnosed. In extreme cases, teens may be skeletally thin but still think they're fat. To prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia may starve themselves or exercise excessively.
Although anorexia focuses on food, the disease is about more than food. Anorexia is an unhealthy way to try to cope with emotional problems, perfectionism and a desire for control. A person with anorexia often equates her self-worth with how thin she is.
Anorexia can be chronic and difficult to overcome. With treatment, however, a person can gain a better sense of who she is, return to healthier eating habits and reverse some of anorexia's serious complications.