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How Much Do Anorexics Weigh?

How Much Do Anorexics Weigh?

Anorexia nervosa, often referred to as anorexia, is an eating disorder that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a complex psychological condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, anorexia is “characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of weight.” Although anorexia can manifest at any age, research suggests it most commonly develops during adolescence. While the exact cause behind why a teen develops anorexia remains unknown, research has found that it is likely due to a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors. Teens struggling with anorexia may exhibit behavioral warning signs such as skipping meals, over-exercising, obsessively reading nutritional information, constantly weighing themselves, regularly making excuses not to eat, denial of a problem despite excessive weight loss, etc. Young people that struggle with anorexia engage in a cycle of self-starvation that often leads to malnutrition such as a lack of essential minerals and nutrients. The list of adverse short and long-term effects of anorexia is extensive, and without proper treatment, anorexia can lead to life-threatening consequences. 

It is impossible to provide a precise weight that accurately depicts all young people struggling with anorexia, as everyone is different. Each person has a unique biological makeup that predisposes them to a certain body type, metabolism speed, height, etc. Rather than concentrating on the exact weight of teens with anorexia, consider focusing on BMI. Harvard Health explains “The healthy range for body mass index (BMI) is between 18.5 and 24.9. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9, and obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.” BMI is calculated by dividing one’s weight (in kilograms) by one’s height (in meters) squared. According to Live Strong, “A BMI below 18.5 signals a problem may exist, while a BMI below 17.5 – especially in adults – is usually present in people with anorexia nervosa.” People with anorexia weigh an average of 15% below the expected weight for their age, sex, and height.

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