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Ask the Experts


I think my friend might have an eating disorder, she has lost a lot of weight over the last few months. She is 5ft. 7in. and weighs approximately 8st. I've noticed she only eats in the evening {crisps, nuts or fitness bars}. What can i do to help her?

Answered by: Michael Devlin

Your friend has a body mass index (BMI) of 17.5 which lies significantly below the normal range of 20-25 kg/m2. While weight loss and restrictive eating are features of anorexia nervosa, there are other possible causes for these symptoms.

A good first step would be for your friend to obtain a thorough psychiatric evaluation. Sometimes it can be difficult to help someone when she does not see herself as having a problem and is not motivated to seek professional help.

In brief, expressing support and concern, and making yourself aware of treatment resources, should she feel more ready to seek help, are useful steps. Motivation typically ebbs and flows, and it's good to have the information readily available when your friend is ready for it. Good luck.