Anorexia, definition, symptoms and treatment

Develop your reading skills. Read the following text about anorexia and do the comprehension questions

What is anorexia?


Anorexia is an eating disorder which is characterized by unusually low body weight, food self-deprivation, a severe fear of gaining weight, and a craving to be thin. Even though people suffering from anorexia are underweight, they consider themselves as obese. Anorexic people are often in self-denial concerning their low body weight.


The symptoms

Signs that someone is anorexic include the following:

  • They frequently weigh themselves.
  • They eat small amounts of food.
  • They only eat certain foods.
  • They exercise excessively.
  • They force themselves to throw up.
  • They might use laxatives so that they can lose weight.


As a consequence, anorexia may lead to severe health problems. The complications may include among other things:

  • Osteoporosis (bone loss).
  • Infertility.
  • Heart damage.
  • In males, reduced levels of testosterone.
  • In women, absence of menstrual periods.
  • Kidney problems.

Psychologically, people suffering from anorexia are often depressed.

Causes of anorexia

The causes of anorexia are not clearly identified. Specialists recognize that there are at least two types of factors that lead to this type of eating disorder, namely genetic predisposition and cultural factors. It has been proven, for example, that identical twins are more often affected than non-identical ones. Besides, It seems that anorexia is more widely spread in societies that highly value thinness. Also, this eating disorder occurs more often among those people who are involved in careers such as modeling, athletic performance, and dancing.


The treatment of anorexia is threefold: medical, nutritional and psychological. The primary focus is to address any serious health problem that may have emerged from the eating disorder such as amenorrhea, malnutrition, and an unstable heartbeat. Additionally, the treatment focuses on restoring weight to its healthy level through the implementation and supervision of a personalized diet and education about normal eating patterns. Patients have also to undergo a therapy that aims at recognizing the primary issues related to the eating disorder. The therapy also involves addressing and healing from traumatic life events. In addition to that, patients have to learn healthier strategies and coping skills. Finally, medications may be used to help with associated anxiety or depression.

Source: Wikipedia


  1. Although anorexic people see themselves as underweight, they work hard to lose more weight.
    a. True
    b. False
  2. People with anorexia suffer from physical as well as psychological complications.
    a. True
    b. False
  3. Culture may play a role in the emergence of anorexia.
    a. True
    b. False
  4. The treatment of anorexia involves mainly medications.
    a. True
    b. False

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