You might think it’s easy to spot someone with an eating disorder when, in reality you can’t tell whether or not someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them. The fact is, most eating disorders don’t fit neatly into diagnostic boxes.
1 in 200 American adults will develop anorexia nervosa in their lifetime, and at least 1 in 20 (1 in 10 teen girls) will struggle with some form of eating disorder that doesn’t meet full diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder. A generalized eating disorder is described by restriction of food, binging on food and/or purging.
Almost anorexic is a category used to describe the vast majority of people who struggle with food and body image problems and who can relate to an “anorexic mindset,” meaning that they strive to be extremely thin and are obsessed with controlling their eating habits.
Although people who struggle with anorexia nervosa have a low body weight, the majority of people with eating disorders are of a normal weight or even overweight.
Health Risks Associated with Almost Anorexia
Just like with anorexia nervosa, the long-term health risks of almost anorexic include heart problems, osteoporosis, mental health issues (i.e. anxiety and depression), and even death.
Similarly, the mortality rate of among those who are almost anorexic is similar to that of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), eating disorders such as almost anorexic currently fall under the diagnosis of Other Specific Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). Another term currently used is Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS; in DSM-IV). It is important to note that OSFED and EDNOS are, in fact, eating disorders. However, a diagnosis of OSFED or EDNOS, such as almost anorexic is nonetheless as serious as a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, bulimia and/or binge eating disorder; it just means that the person’s condition doesn’t meet the strict criteria for these already-documented eating disorders.
A New Diagnosis
Previous and current ways of diagnosing eating disorders result in many people being told that they basically have a vague eating problem. With the new diagnosis, conditions such as almost anorexia are now being recognized by the medical community and treatment is available. The benefits of the new criteria for diagnosing eating disorders could have more impact than just a more precise diagnosis – the revised guidelines could also mean that insurance companies will begin to pay for more patients’ treatment.
New research suggests that many of the same techniques, such as family-based treatment and cognitive-behavioral therapy, are useful for the treatment of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can provide relief for those who are almost anorexic.
People with eating disorders have a hard time getting health insurance to cover the treatment of their conditions. As it stands now, only 23 states in the U.S. have laws that require insurers to provide the same level of coverage for eating disorders that they do for physical illnesses and conditions.
Even in states with those laws, the “majority of people diagnosed with EDNOS were denied insurance coverage because they didn’t “fit into” standard categories such as anorexia and bulimia. Treatment for eating disorders costs around $30,000 a month and that doesn’t include the cost of treatment for secondary health conditions associated with almost anorexia.