Is it Possible to Be Both Obese and Anorexic?

Contact Us

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

When most people think about anorexia, they picture a stereotype of someone drastically underweight. Is it possible to be both obese and anorexic? Yes, it is, and regardless of what a person with an eating disorder weighs, they are dealing with a dangerous mental health disorder. Trellis Recovery Centers provides structured treatment for people with several types of eating disorders. Our highly experienced staff of eating disorder-trained professionals uses their skills to help people build new, healthy relationships with their bodies, food, and self-image.

What is Atypical Anorexia?

Atypical anorexia is an eating disorder that falls under the classification of Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). It is also referred to as subthreshold anorexia. The difference between anorexia nervosa and atypical anorexia is that people with atypical anorexia typically do not become underweight. Instead, they maintain a state of being overweight, obese, or at a weight outwardly perceived as healthy for them. This means that a person can be both obese and anorexic.

Similar Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Obesity and Anorexia 

Someone who is considered obese by medical standards and someone who has anorexia can share many commonalities. For example, someone who develops an eating disorder while obese may lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time. A person with atypical anorexia typically shares many of the same behaviors as someone with anorexia. The person with atypical anorexia loses weight because of their eating disorder behaviors but remains at a so-called “normal” weight or is overweight or obese. The person with anorexia also loses weight by using unhealthy eating disorder behaviors but obtains an underweight status as a result. In both cases, the person is at risk of the following:

  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle

Someone who is both obese and anorexic can share similar psychological symptoms. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Poor body image
  • Negative self-esteem
  • Focused on weight, calories, and clothing sizes
  • Suicidal thoughts 

Is Being Obese and Anorexic Viewed the Same Way?

Even though a lot of progress has been made in understanding eating disorders, much misinformation still exists. Someone who has anorexia often receives sympathy and recognition that they have an illness they need help getting under control. Yet people who qualify as being medically obese often do not get the same courtesy. Someone who becomes obese is often viewed as merely lacking self-control. While a person who is visibly thin may be complemented on their “self-control” (regardless of if they are ill), someone who is overweight often gets diet tips and is told they just need to develop willpower. 

When a person reaches the point of being obese, they may have medical issues that contribute to weight gain, such as a problem with their thyroid. For millions, mental health-related issues contribute to binge eating or compulsive overeating, which results in a large weight gain. Instead of just being someone who needs to hit the gym, a person who is obese likely has issues such as low self-esteem, past or current issues that cause depression or anxiety, or a trauma-related incident that still impacts them. The same can be said of someone who is obese and anorexic. In other words, regardless of the eating disorder, the underlying issues contribute a great deal to why the person became sick and needs professional help from mental health experts to heal. 

Types of Treatment for Obesity and Anorexia Nervosa 

Regardless of whether someone with an eating disorder is overweight, an average weight, or underweight, the approach to treatment remains basically the same. Someone who is obese and anorexic will be evaluated when they begin treatment to make sure the staff understands their exact diagnosis. From there, a calendar of sessions can be created to expose the individual to several methods of therapy modalities that help them recover. Each type of therapy offers a way to understand the intricacies of why someone develops an eating disorder and how to overcome it. 

The types of therapy that offer specific help for people with eating disorders include:

These therapies also help treat people who have additional mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Contact Trellis Recovery Centers About Our Eating Disorder Treatment Options

Do you have an eating disorder but feel uncertain if it’s serious because you are not underweight or may be overweight? Body size does not mean less is more when it comes to deserving treatment. Trellis Recovery Centers recognizes that you can be obese and anorexic at the same time and still deserve focused, professional help to heal. We offer a highly effective residential program for men and women that leads you to the road to recovery. Our combination of therapy modalities helps empower you and shows you that there is a healthy life far beyond the world of anorexia and eating disorders.

Contact us to find out how easy it is to get started on treatment that will change your life. Our admissions staff is happy to answer any questions you have about our program.