This ‘silent eating disorder’ isn’t about weight or body image

Earlier this year, an 8-year-old Los Angeles girl named Hannah went viral for videos she posted online in which she tries different foods, documents her reactions to them, and rates them on a scale of 1 to 10. The clips aren’t just frivolous forays into the world of strange foods; they’re a kind of exposure therapy for Hannah, who suffers from a little-known eating disorder called avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder, or ARFID, sometimes referred to as “the silent eating disorder.”

  • What it is: The disorder, which affects between 0.5% and 5% of children and adults in the general population, is different from other eating disorders that hyper-focus on negative body image or a desire to lose weight. Instead, patients with the disorder have fear or anxiety about eating itself, which limits their food intake and can lead to social isolation and long-term health problems, such as weight loss, stunted growth and nutritional deficiencies, according to CNN and Today in the USAccording to the National Eating Disorders Association, ARFID was officially added as a diagnosis for food or eating disorders to the DSM-5 in 2013, ABC News reports.

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