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anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss (or lack of appropriate weight gain in growing children); difficulties maintaining an appropriate body weight for height, age, and stature; and, in many individuals, distorted body image. people with anorexia generally restrict the number of calories and the types of food they eat. some people with the disorder also exercise compulsively, purge via vomiting and laxatives, and/or binge eat.
anorexia can affect people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races, and ethnicities. historians and psychologists have found evidence of people displaying symptoms of anorexia for hundreds or thousands of years.
although the disorder most frequently begins during adolescence, an increasing number of children and older adults are also being diagnosed with anorexia. you cannot tell if a person is struggling with anorexia by looking at them. a person does not need to be emaciated or underweight to be struggling. studies have found that larger-bodied individuals can also have anorexia, although they may be less likely to be diagnosed due to cultural prejudice against fat and obesity.