The main criteria for a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa are persistent restriction of dietary intake leading to significantly low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, with sustained patterns of behaviour that prevent weight gain, and body image disturbances such that weight and shape have undue influence on self-evaluation. This is accompanied by a persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of the current low body weight.
Recent data distributed by the Victorian Government indicate that about one in 100 adolescent girls in Australia will develop Anorexia Nervosa, and one in ten sufferers of anorexia is male. The average age of onset is 17. Anorexia is an extremely serious psychological disorder, with a death rate higher than any other psychiatric disorder. Effective treatment is essential and usually urgent, and commonly long-term treatment is needed to minimise the risk of relapse.