What are Common Signs of Anorexia?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2018
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The most common signs of anorexia are accelerated weight loss and disdain for food in general. Consuming smaller portions and refusing to eat foods that the person had typically enjoyed may also be signs of anorexia. Becoming engrossed with one's physical appearance is another sign, which may include constant reference to weight.

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa may produce different symptoms according to gender and age. For example, signs of anorexia in children and young teens may be somewhat more difficult to detect and pinpoint than signs of anorexia in an adult. When a pubescent or juvenile is suffering from anorexia, her symptoms may be unrecognizable as such and therefore misdiagnosed. An apparent loss of appetite may be thought of as the child being a finicky eater or simply going through a temporary phase.

To recognize signs of anorexia in children, one should be concerned when weight loss is combined with a fixation on wanting to be "skinny." She may make comments pertaining to being "fat," even if there is no reason or cause. The child or adolescent may also try to hide the fact that she is not eating her regular meals or skipping meals altogether.


Although anorexia is more prevalent in females, boys and men may become affected as well. Symptoms of anorexia in males may be similar to those in females in terms of eating habits, although behavior and attitude may differ somewhat. A male who is anorexic may incur the same alarming weight loss, while being determined to alter or improve his physique through constantly working out.

Signs of anorexia in females may also involve a preoccupation with counting calories and competitiveness with friends and peers. This competitiveness may manifest in the desire to be thinner than her friends. She may set a goal to lose more weight than a friend by a specified time and date. Vomiting on an almost daily basis could be a warning sign.

A girl who is affected by anorexia may exhibit signs that involve her health. Her menstrual cycle may become interrupted or irregular. Her hair and nails may become brittle and dull. She may suffer from extreme fatigue or fainting spells. In advanced stages of this condition, she may experience heart irregularities, such as rapid heartbeat or palpitations. This may be due to nutritional deficiencies, and an imbalance of electrolytes.

Other signs of anorexia, in both males and females, may be social changes. Becoming moody and withdrawn, losing interest in any interaction with friends, or failing at school may be symptoms as well. It's important to note, however, that these symptoms could indicate many other conditions as well, and making a conclusive diagnosis should be done by a physician.



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