AN affects females more commonly than males— 90% of those affected are female. Typically, the disorder begins when an adolescent or young woman of normal or slightly overweight stature decides to diet. As weight falls, the intensity and obsession with dieting increases. Affected individuals may also increase physical exertion or exercise as weight decreases to lose more pounds. An affected person develops peculiar rules concerning exercise and eating. Weight loss and avoidance of food is equated in these patients with a sense of accomplishment and success. Weight gain is viewed as a sign of weakness (succumbing to eat food) and as failure. Eventually, the affected person becomes increasingly focused on losing weight and devotes most efforts to dieting and exercise.

Anorexia nervosa is a complex eating disorder that has biological, psychological, and social consequences for those who suffer from it. When diagnosed early, the prognosis for AN is good.

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