Anorexia victims are poor at judging their own body size but very accurate when it comes to sizing up other people, according to a new study.
Researchers found patients with anorexia have trouble accurately judging their own body size, but not others'.
In the study, led by Dewi Guardia of the University Hospital of Lille in France, 25 patients with anorexia and 25 people of normal weight were shown a door-like space. They were asked to judge whether or not it was wide enough for both themselves and another person present to pass through.
Anorexic patients felt they could not pass through the door even when it was easily wide enough. The more weight they had lost in the last six months the wider they thought the door needed to be to let them pass through.
However, the anorexic patients were just as accurate as normal weight patients at judging whether someone else could pass through the doorway.
Dr Guardia said this suggested severely underweight patients may still think of themselves as their previous size.
'The central nervous system has not updated the new, emaciated body,' the researchers suggested in the journal PLOS ONE.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder and mental health condition that can be life-threatening. Approximately 11 people in 100,000 develop anorexia nervosa each year.
It stems from low self-esteem and an inability to cope with worries and problems. Sufferers lower their food intake by skipping meals or reducing portion sizes and some over-exercise as well.
Many have the mistaken belief that losing weight will somehow be beneficial and may have a negative internal voice.
The most important step towards diagnosis and treatment is for the sufferer to recognise they need help and to want to get better. Treatments include various psychological therapies.
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- Anorexia is an eating disorder. It occurs when a person's obsession with diet and exercise leads to extreme weight loss. The disorder is considered if a person refuses to maintain a body weight at or above 85% of their ideal body weight. It can be fatal.
CausesThe cause of anorexia is not known. It appears that genetics and environment play a role.
RiskA risk factor increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for anorexia include the following:
- Sex: female
- Age: adolescence or early adulthood
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of helplessness
- Fear of becoming overweight
- Familial pressure to be thin
- Families that are overprotective, rigid, not involved, or in conflict
- Family history of eating disorders
- Emotional stress
- Mood disorders, such as
- depression or generalized anxiety disorder
- Personality disorders
- Susceptibility to social and fashion trends emphasizing or glamorizing thinness
SymptomsSymptoms may include:
- Excessive weight loss
- Obsession with food, calories, and fat content
- Dieting even when thin
- Intense fear of gaining weight, even when underweight
- Body dysmorphia—distorted self-image of being overweight despite evidence to the contrary
- Basing self-evaluation heavily on body weight or shape
- Loss of menstrual periods (secondary amenorrhea) or delay in menarche (onset of periods)
- Excessive exercising
- Feeling cold, especially hands and feet
- Being secretive about food
- Hair loss and/or growth of fine hair on the body
- Fainting or severe light-headedness
- Anorexia often leads to a number of serious medical problems including:
- Amenorrhea (loss of periods)
Body DysmorphiaCopyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.