Eating Disorders and Orthopaedics 

It is estimated that over 725,000 in the UK alone are affected by an eating disorder, with the number of inpatient hospital admissions increasing approximately 7% each year. Eating disorders are serious and can substantially affect a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health, with some of the most significant long term effects of eating disorders being damage to your musculoskeletal system.

Anorexia Nervosa and Osteoporosis

Anorexia Nervosa (commonly known as Anorexia), is one of the most common eating disorders. The name literally means ‘loss of appetite for nervous reasons’ and is an eating disorder in which people starve themselves, sometimes to the point of death.

One of the serious long-term effects of Anorexia Nervosa in particular is Osteoporosis (brittle bones). Osteoporosis occurs when your bones become thin which in turn causes them to become fragile and break easily, often after a minor fall or bump. It is these broken bones or fractures that can lead to pain often associated with osteoporosis. 

People with Anorexia Nervosa will often have low bone density and subsequently reduced bone strength as well an increased risk in fracturing/breaking a bone. 

There are several causes of the low bone density in Anorexia, including the body’s change to its hormone production due to a person’s low body weight, as well as poor nutrition and reduced muscle mass. 


Eating Disorders and Athletes

Food, nutrition, and eating are a vital part of every athlete's life and as such athletes often lead a very strict diet in order to adapt their body weight/shape for their sport and their performance. 

However activities, such as deliberate bingeing or restricting food intake, that start as a means to control weight and improve performance, can quickly lead to destructive and dangerous eating disorders. 

Athletes may start exercising excessively in addition to their training, with some coaches initially seeing this as a positive change, without realising that these actions are compulsively driven and increasingly becoming part of a routine in which exercise must be done even when injured or ill. 

Not only can this lead to serious physical 'burnout', but it can have a significant effect on an athletes mentality as they increasingly set themselves higher goals to work towards, such as exercising more or for longer periods of time. 

This can not only have a severely adverse effect on athletic performance, but the long term health effects can mean than they are more likely to develop conditions such as osteoporosis as suffer stress fractures and repeated injuries as a result. 


Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. For more information or support and services, visit 

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