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Safety and Wellness

Our Friend Might Have Anorexia. How Can We Help?


Some people at school are worried because we think our friend has anorexia. Is there anything we can do for her?
- Dionne*

It’s a great idea to eat healthy and stay in shape, but when it goes to an unhealthy or extreme level, a person might be developing an eating disorder. Although many people are unhappy with their weight, someone who starts to do things that are emotionally or physically dangerous in order to lose weight may have an eating disorder.

Signs of an eating disorder can include:

  • moving food around on the plate instead of eating it
  • compulsive exercising (including over-exercising, exercising when injured, secret exercising)
  • always going to the bathroom right after eating
  • drastic weight loss
  • eating a lot, often uncontrollably
  • fear of gaining weight
  • constantly talking about weight and food
  • not getting menstrual periods
  • eating only in private
  • preoccupation with calorie counting and nutritional information

People with eating disorders need help or they can get very sick. Try talking with your friend and expressing your concern. Sometimes this can help — other times, people are in denial or are afraid they'll be talked in to gaining weight. Encourage your friend to talk to a parent, counselor, or doctor about getting help. If your friend doesn't get help, you may need to talk to your parents, school guidance counselor, or nurse.

Reviewed by: Michelle New, PhD
Date reviewed: September 2011

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.


Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

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