Anorexia nervosa is probably the most dangerous eating disorder imaginable, especially among young people. It has come to symbolize the pursuit of the “perfect body”, as it has been portrayed in pop culture during recent decades. Although paradigms are slowly changing in the corporate world and ideas like body positivity and self-acceptance are increasingly promoted, anorexia remains a challenge worldwide. Diagnostically speaking, the condition is classified as an extreme anxiety disorder, where the person affected develops an extreme phobia of gaining excess weight and has a strong desire to be thin, which manifests itself through starvation or bulimia.
In addition to the foremost and most obvious risk of death by malnourishment, anorexia usually exacerbates other mental health issues, such as suicidal depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or body dysmorphia. As of 2015, it is estimated anorexia nervosa affects 2.9 million people; according to a report published in the National Library of Medicine’s psychiatric journal, it occurs in 0.9% to 4.3% of women and 0.2% to 0.3% of men in Western countries.
Despite its shocking visual manifestations and the huge strain it puts on the families of sufferers, the ailment is one with good chances of recovery if treated properly. Research suggests that around 46% of anorexia patients fully recover, with 33% improving and 20% remaining chronically ill. Similarly, 45% make a full recovery from bulimia, 27% improve considerably and 23% suffer chronically. Here are twenty before and after pictures from people who have beaten an eating disorder.