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Famous People who Have or Had Anorexia Nervosa

written by: Melinda F. • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 7/10/2010

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa affect people regardless of age, sex or background, though it is most commonly experienced by young women. Celebrities aren't excluded either. There are a number of celebrities with anorexia, as well as those who have struggled with anorexia in the past.

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    Celebrities with Anorexia Nervosa - Karen Carpenter

    Karen Carpenter was one half of the sensational 70s musical group ‘The Carpenters’. She died in 1983 at the age of just 32. The cause of death was a heart attack, which was brought on by complications related to the eating disorder anorexia nervosa- which was little known at the time.

    She was a "chubby child" and her doctor put her on a water diet to lose weight. Losing weight became an obsession, and at her lowest point she weighed just 80 pounds. Her death brought worldwide attention to this potentially life-threatening disease.

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    Tracey Gold

    American actress Tracey Gold’s battle with anorexia nervosa and bulimia hit the headlines when she took the lead role in a TV movie titled, “For the Love of Nancy". She played a girl who was struggling with anorexia, whilst she was actually recovering from it in real life. Tracey is mostly known for her role as Carol Seaver in the sitcom ‘Growing Pains’. She began her struggles with anorexia at age 12 and then later relapsed in 1988 at the age of 19. At one time she nearly starved herself to death. Her family and friends encouraged her to get treatment and she is now healthy, and happily married with children.

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    Fiona Apple

    Fiona Apple performing at KeyArena in Seattle, Washington, United States Fiona is a singer-songwriter who developed anorexia nervosa after being raped outside of her home when she was just 12 years old. Fiona Apple has also admitted to self-injuring herself in the past.

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    Victoria Beckham

    Former ‘Spice Girl’ Victoria Beckham, also known as Posh Spice, has admitted she came close to being anorexic. In 2003 she told ABC's 20/20, "I was very obsessed. I mean, I could tell you the fat content and calorie content in absolutely anything." She has also said her obsession with weight started when the Spice Girls were being pressured to be thin.
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    Jane Fonda

    Jane Fonda was one of the first women to speak out about having an eating disorder. She began her battle with anorexia at age 12 and it lasted for more than 30 years. She once said, "For 25 years, I could never put a forkful in my mouth without feeling fear, without feeling scared. This feels like one of those Alcoholic Anonymous meetings…but instead it’s, ‘I’m Jane Fonda and I’ve been bulimic and anorexic for 25 years of my life." The actress has spent considerable time trying to raise awareness of eating disorders.

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    Alanis Morissette

    Alanis Morissette singing the American and Canadian national anthems at the Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4, 2007 Alanis Morissette is a popular Canadian singer whose most successful album was her worldwide debut release ‘Jagged Little Pill’ in the 90s. She wrote a song called ‘Perfect’ on that same album which is about her recovery from an eating disorder she had been struggling with from the age of 14 until she was 18. She told one reporter that at the time she felt she had to adhere to a standard of beauty. A friend confronted her about her weight loss, and ever since the singer has adopted healthy eating habits.

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    Lacey Schwimmer

    Lacey is a professional dancer and has been on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ for a umber of seasons. Her most memorable season was perhaps in 2008 when she partnered former N’Sync member Lance Bass. Lacey developed anorexia when she was just 13 after training for 10 hours a day as a dancer. She has spoken out about her struggles and is now working hard to help others who are suffering from the disease.

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    Women and girls of all ages struggle with eating disorders and it doesn’t always stem from the same things. For instance, some people become anorexic because of the pressure to be thin while others have had traumatic experiences at some point in their life that triggered the disease. Anorexia nervosa is a very serious disease that can be treated, but if left untreated could result in death.

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    References Battling Anorexia: The Story of Karen Carpenter Celebrities: Famous People Who Died or Have Eating Disorders

    Picture Credit - all released into the public domain under Creative Commons License