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What is the difference between anorexia and under-eating?
Asked by kathyfowler on Dec 09, 2008 in Emotional & Behavioral Issues

I am a student nurse who has to write an essay about a problem that I have. I have been eating only about 800 calories a day but am at ideal weight. I’ve had this eating habit for about 5 years now but I am not anorexic (I don't exercise much).  What are the side effects of under eating and why do people do it?  Every place I’ve done research has linked anorexia and under eating together. I need to know the difference between them.


All people with anorexia nervosa (AN) under-eat, but not all under-eaters have AN. Under-eating may be due to deliberately reducing your intake, such as in extreme dieting or AN, or it could be due to physical illnesses such as digestion problems, heart conditions, cancer, and medication side effects, as well as mental health conditions such as depressive disorders, social conflicts and general stress, or to intense business, and other reasons. AN, on the other hand, is a psychological disorder with defined diagnostic criteria comprised of refusal to maintain or achieve 85% of expected body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, distortion of body image, and the absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles. Either way, the effect is weight loss and low body weight. In looking at your own diet, consider that you may be underestimating your food intake.

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