The World Health Organization (WHO) defines anorexia nervosa as “a disorder characterized by deliberate weight loss, induced and sustained by the patient”.

People with anorexia nervosa have an excessively low body weight, are afraid of weight gain and suffer from body dysmorphia. Very often this comes from an identity problem linked to low self-esteem inducing a poor perception of their body image and a vulnerability to life and its changes.

People going through this experience will use all the means at their disposal to reach their goal, as for example rationing their diet, doing sport in an excessive way or going through fasting. This fight against hunger gives the person a feeling of control and of power over this body they dislike so much, and, in a way, it gives them the impression to have a sense of control on their life.

People with anorexia can present or not a compensatory method like vomiting, taking a laxative, diuretic or natural health product and/or excessive physical exercise.

  • In Europe people with anorexia nervosa account for 1-4% of the population.
  • In 2013 anorexia nervosa ranked 12th in the list of causes leading to disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in young females between 15- and 19-years old living in high-income countries.
  • A study on eating disorders in female Chinese university students (2013) concluded that the prevalence of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and BED among Chinese women is almost equal to that among Western women.