Having read about the effects anorexia has on the metabolism, and that that effect seems to go away after half a year, I am wondering, what are the long-term physical effects of anorexia nervosa on the body, provided a patient recovers?

I am not looking for the effects while they are still anorexic, but for whether any effects remain after recovery.

1 Answer 1


Gynecological effects

Meczekalski et al. (2013) found that, in addition to fertility problems and related, issues,

Rates of birth complications and low birth weight may be higher in women with previous AN.

Related gynecological effects were much more severe in women with the disease.

This article also states that

First-degree female relatives and monozygotic twin offspring of patients with anorexia nervosa have higher rates of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Children of patients with anorexia nervosa have a lifetime risk for anorexia nervosa that is tenfold that of the general population (5%). Families of patients with bulimia nervosa have higher rates of substance abuse, particularly alcoholism, affective disorders, and obesity. Traits such as impulsivity, negative affect, perfectionism, and low self esteem are risk factors that may largely be genetically determined.

Neurological effects

Wagner et al. observed that by one year after recovery from anorexia, white matter, grey matter, and cerebrospinal fluid levels were back to normal, comparable with levels observed in a control group without a history of anorexia. In other words, this effect dissipated after recovery.

Kaye et al. (1999) found that levels of a metabolite of dopamine continued to stay low one year after recovery. This could be responsible for mood swings associated with the disease before, during, and after recovery.

Bone effects

Mehler & Brown (2015) note that while bone mass loss effects are common in anorexia patients, these patients may never recover, especially if the disease strikes during adolescence. The chances of a fracture over the course of a lifetime are about 60% higher, as found by Faje et al. (2014), which studied 310 adolescent (ages 12-22) females with anorexia and 108 without. Specifically, they found that the control group had about a 20% chance of fracture, while the group with anorexia had about a 30% chance of fracture.


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