Anorexia nervosa affects about one percent of girls between 12 and 25, in the EU, but also occurs in men and older people. 35 percent of all those with anorexia are adults - one in eight is a male. It may take them 5 or 6 years to recover. 15 percent die, often of starvation or suicide. Anorexia often leads to social isolation and relationship problems. Osteoporosis, heart problems, infertility and depression are frequent conditions. There is a hereditary tendency to develop anorexia: 50 percent of identical twins get anorexic and 8 percent of fraternal twins, when the illness is present.
Anorexia is equally common in all cultures. Only half of those with anorexia seek help. 40 percent have an intensive fear of going up in weight. Anorexia can start as a result of stress. For them starvation reduces mental pain and anxiety.