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Temperamental factors such as perfectionism and obsessional traits in childhood are also associated with eating disorders.
Anorexia Nervosa and other eating disorders are commonly found in cultures and settings where "being thin" is seen as desirable.
These include post-industrialized, high income countries where fashion trends, sales campaigns, and media often present thinness as a desirable or typical trait.
Studies on the basic biology of appetite control and its alteration by prolonged overeating or starvation have uncovered enormous complexity; in time, their findings may lead to new pharmacologic treatments for eating disorders.
Scientists suspect that multiple genes may interact with environmental and other factors to increase the risk of developing these illnesses.
An intense fear of gaining weight and of being fat may become all-pervasive.
In early stages of these disorders, patients often deny that they have a problem.
Eating disorders frequently co-occur with other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, and borderline personality disorder.
In addition, people who suffer from eating disorders can experience a wide range of physical health complications, such as loss of bone mineral density, anemia, heart conditions, and kidney failure, which can, in some cases, lead to death.
In the United States, an estimated 0.9 percent of females and 0.3 percent of males suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime with an increase in the age group of 15- to 19-year-old girls.
Anorexia nervosa is one of the three major types of feeding and eating disorders; the other categories are bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.