Home » Expert Q & A » Eating Disorders » Eating Disorders: William Anderson

Would a 45 year old man ever get something like anorexia?

  • anonymous Asks ...

    Would a 45 year old man ever get something like anorexia? My brother was overweight his whole life. Last year he had a health scare and he turned his life around. He quit smoking stopped drinking, gave up red meat etc etc etc. I do not know the numbers but I would say he has lost 70 or more pounds. He used to be very overweight but not crazy fat. Now he is a very thin person. Not quite ghoulishly thin but barely recognizable as the person he was 2 years ago. Now he is hyper focused on healthy eating. He won’t eat processed foods, non whole grain foods, farmed meat or fish and the list goes on. He seems to subsist mostly on organic yogurt, nuts and fruits and salads. I am worried because he has these rigid food rules that he won’t break, ever and because he is getting so thin that you would think there was something wrong with him, like he has AIDS or something. He went from fat guy to losing weight guy to really healthy looking guy to guy that really looks like he needs a cheeseburger. I have talked to him about my concerns but he has brushed them off. My other siblings are also concerned but no one knows what to do.

  • William Anderson Says ...
    William Anderson

    It sounds like your brother has become a health nut, but it does not sound like anorexia nervosa, self-starving by not eating healthfully. Your brother's focus is healthy eating. 

    A health scare can precipitate big changes, like quitting smoking, drinking, red meats and processed food, as your bother has. This will cause a big weight loss until the lost unhealthy calories by are replaced by healthy calories, which will be a challenge because the food and drink he quit are so calorically dense. Give it time and see what happens. Chances are that he will gradually increase the calories he eats until his habits have changed to provided him with the nutrients he needs to sustain a healthy weight. 

    Also, bear in mind that you are accustomed to seeing your brother as a corpulent man. If you check BMI charts, you'll find that the range of healthy weights is rather low in relation to what we have come to see as normal in America. Is his weight within the healthy range, or is he underweight? For instance, a six-foot man is not considered underweight unless he is below 140 pounds. If your brother is six foot and below 140, I'd be concerned too, but his doctor would probably be OK with it. 

    Let your brother know about your concerns and ask him to tell you exactly what he weighs and check it against the BMI charts. If he is truly underweight, write back and we'll talk about how to proceed with an intervention if needed. If he is still a healthy weight, leave it alone and see what happens in the future. 

Featured Experts