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Question
Posted by: kobie | 2007/02/19

Suspect friend suffers eating disorder

Dear Diet Doc

I am very concerned about my best friend. I seriously suspect that she is suffering from an eating disorder. It really started to get out of hand when her boyfriend broke up with her. She often skip meals and will make comments on how little she had to eat over the last few days. She is 1.78m tall and weighs about 55kg. What is most shocking to me is that she lost 10kg in less than 4 months. She used to be a size 36 all her life and dropped to a size 34 about 2 years ago. She is currently a lose fitting size 32. I am just scared that she will continue dieting. Her mother is also very worried about her eating problem. I do not know how to handle this. Her mom suggested that a group of her friends discuss her eating problem with her. Do you think that this is the correct way to handle the problem?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Kobie
Your best friend does indeed sound as if she is losing too much weight. Her present BMI = 17,4 which is already below the normal range and in the danger area. What you need to keep in mind and try to find out, is if she is suffering from depression, because involuntary anorexia is a symptom of severe depression. In all events I think that you as her best friend (not a whole group of friends as this is too threatening) should talk to her about the fact that she is fading away and that you wonder if this is because she is purposefully dieting and trying to lose weight, or if she can't control this reaction. Explain gently to her that she needs some professional help as she will ruin her health and her life if she continues like this. Suggest that she should see a clinical psychologist (look in the Yellow Pages or ask your gp to refer you to one), to help her work out why she is trying to self-destruct. If you can get her so far as to see a psychologist this would help a great deal as he/she will be able to diagnose if your friend is suffering from depression and/or anorexia and suggest treatment. Once you have a diagnosis then it is also important to consult a clinical dietitian (visit the Association for Dietetics in SA Website at: www.adsa.org.za and click on "Find a Dietitian" to find a dietitian in your area), to help her to get back to eating normally again.
I sincerely hope that you can help your friend
Best regards
DietDoc

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