What is Wannarexia?

Eating disorders are a growing problem among teens with more terms being coined to describe various types of eating disorders leaving parents wondering what is wannarexia? Wannarexia is a term coined to describe that want to develop an eating disorder.

Wannarexia is a term that has been used to describe mostly teen girls that want to develop an eating disorder as a way to lose weight by not eating or by throwing up their food or other unhealthy eating habits. Although some teen boys are affected as well, the majority of those who use the term and are called the term are young teenage girls. 

What is Wannarexia?

The term is often used to describe teen girls who strive to lose weight because of some misguided idea that it is a great way to lose weight. Girls also think that by developing an eating disorder to lose weight they also might become more popular. The definition is as the name implies. Teens "Wanna" become anorexic to fit in, lose weight and become more popular. These girls are known to have set an unrealistic standard of beauty for themselves, but may not be at the level where they are literally developing an eating disorder, yet. 

About one percent of all females in the United States will develop anorexia throughout the course of their lives. About 90 percent of those diagnosed with an eating disorder are young women and teens, which is why the illness is primarily described as a woman's illness. Wannarexia, on the other hand, is more of a cultural phenomenon rather than an actual diagnosis. Because of this, it can be difficult to set the girls who really have an eating disorder apart from the girls who just try and have an eating disorder instead. While wannarexia is not as dangerous as full-fledged anorexia, it is the start of a slippery slope, according to many doctors and health care professionals and researchers. Many girls with wannarexia are being classified as part of the group called EDNOS or Eating disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Many of those girls who are classified as a wannarexic are considered to be normal or even overweight in most instances because they are using the harsh anorexic diet as a way to lose weight. 

Wannarexia is a term that is often thrown about Pro Ana-Mia website forums and message boards. These kinds of websites are dedicated to the support of anorexia and bulimia eating disorders as a way to lose weight. However, many of the members are avidly against wannarexic members because they technically do not have a classified eating disorder. Many of the members of these boards find it offensive because those with anorexia and similar eating disorders have eating disorders, which they suffer from. They are traditionally not doing it just to lose weight, there is a more mental and emotional issue involved that requires severe treatment to overcome. The difference between those with wannarexia and actual anorexia is that the girls who suffer from an eating disorder are not satisfied when they see the numbers of their weight drop on the scale. However, those with wannarexia are more likely to find pleasure in their weight loss. 

Consequences of Wannarexia:

The danger that comes with wannarexia can be very real, however because it can lead to developing a full-fledged eating disorder or it can at the very least cause compulsive behaviors or obsessive behaviors, which can be unhealthy. Restricting one's diet to the point of starvation, regardless of the reason can also cause other problems like stomach issues, digestive problems and even heart problems. The signs that wannarexia could be developing into a full-on eating disorder is usually signaled with those obsessive behaviors as well as when the eating habits, exercise and overall behaviors begin to consume your life. This is the point where it is not healthy. 


If you are a parent of a teen that tries to severely restrict their eating to lose weight, they may either have already developed an eating disorder or might quickly be heading toward that road. Get your child help as soon as possible through mental and emotional therapy to help them get their compulsions under control. Many teens in this situation may just need to discuss their eating habits with a dietician or nutritionist to learn healthy eating habits so they can still lose weight, but do so in a healthy fashion.  

Sources: usatoday.com

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