Anorexia Nervosa was first described in England in the 17th Century. Although it probably existed long before that. It was identified as an illness by modern medicine just over one hundred years ago by Professor Ernest Lasegue of the University of Paris. In recent years the condition has been the subject of considerable study. Anorexia Nervosa is defined as an " intense fear of gaining weight or becoming visibly fat, even though underweight." A person suffering from Anorexia is generally sensitive about being fat, and of losing control over the amount of food he/she eats. Anorexia nervosa is often considered to be just one of a broad spectrum of eating disorders. It is also, and more importantly, a psychological disorder. The onset age for this eating disorder is 14 and 18 years old and wealthy, white women are often the primary suspects. It is a condition that goes beyond out-of-control. A person with anorexia initially begins dieting to lose weight. Over time, the weight loss becomes a sign of control. The drive to become thinner is actually secondary to concerns about control and fears relating to their body. The person continues the endless cycle of restrictive eating, often to a point of starvation. This becomes an obsession and is similar to an addiction to any type of drug or substance. Anorexia generally affects females, but can affect males as well. In males, the onset age for this disease is later than it is for women. Men are also more commonly overweight before the onset of the disorder than women. .
There are many aspects of a person's environment and mental psyche that can cause Anorexia Nervosa. Certain personality traits common in people with anorexia are low self-esteem and pressure from friends and family members. Social, behavioral, and environmental influences may also play a role. Eating disorders are seen primarily in Western and industrialized countries, where slimness is a model of attractiveness.