DEAR ABBY: My younger sister "Marni" is 15 and paranoid about her weight because when she was younger she was teased about being fat. From what I have learned on the Internet, she may suffer from anorexia.
Marni barely eats most of the time, but occasionally she'll stuff herself and then get rid of it by throwing up in the bathroom. She has also started taking laxatives. We share a room, so I see her without her clothes on, and her body is wasting away. It's not obvious when she's dressed, but when she's undressed she's literally skin and bones.
Marni says she's "fine" and will stop her behavior "once she gets her weight down," even though she's already much too thin. She won't let me say anything to Mom, who doesn't seem to realize what's going on. What should I do? I know she needs help. -- ANXIOUS IN LEXINGTON, KY.
DEAR ANXIOUS: Marni is NOT fine. You should tell your mother immediately what she has been doing because her life could depend on it. Her distorted body image is not her fault. She needs professional help and should be seen by your family physician immediately.
Throwing up after meals and taking laxatives are symptoms of a severe, life-threatening eating disorder. As you probably learned online, anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
Nearly 10 million women and 1 million men suffer from an eating disorder. The National Eating Disorders Association has many thousands of members and offers programs and information to support individuals, families and friends who have been affected by eating disorders. Its Information and Referral Helpline ((800) 931-2237) and Web site (� HYPERLINK "http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org" ��www.nationaleatingdisorders.org�) offer the latest information available on recognizing the early warning signs and getting quality treatment and support.
Eating disorders are treatable if caught in time, and recovery is possible. Marni is fortunate to have a loving sister who cares about her welfare, and I'm glad you wrote.