Fasting vs Anorexia: Difference and Comparison

Eating disorders are very serious illnesses that are found fatal. These are found to be associated with grave disturbances in people’s eating conditions and thoughts and emotions related to the same.

Common eating disorders include binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa and many others. Together, these disorders affect approximately 5% of the human population.

Key Takeaways

  1. Fasting is a deliberate, controlled abstinence from food for spiritual, health, or weight loss purposes.
  2. Anorexia is a psychological disorder characterized by an extreme fear of gaining weight and severe self-imposed calorie restriction.
  3. Fasting can be part of a healthy lifestyle, while anorexia is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening condition.

Fasting vs Anorexia

Fasting is a way to lose weight, improve metabolism, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by fear of gaining weight, distorted body image, and severe restriction of food intake, leading to low body weight, malnutrition, and other health complications.

Fasting vs

When a person says that he is fasting, he means that he will stop eating completely or partially for a certain amount of time. Time period of a fast stretch from 12hrs to a day and sometimes days.

During the fast, one may be allowed certain food items such as tea, coffee and water.

Anorexia is an eating disorder that is found fatal to life. It is of two types: anorexia nervosa and atypical anorexia nervosa.

It can be identified by abnormally low body weight, distorted perception of shape or weight and intense fear of gaining weight. People suffering from this disorder are very conscious of their body weight.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonFastingAnorexia
DefinitionFasting refers to refraining from eating food partially or fully for a certain amount of time.Anorexia is an eating disorder in which people avoid eating food due to fear of increase in body weight.
VoluntaryIt is done voluntarily.It is not done voluntarily, there is no choice.
Medical conditionIt is not a medical condition.It is a medical condition.
FatalIt is not fatal.Fatal; has the highest mortality rate of any eating disorder
ReasonsDone for medical, psychological or spiritual reasonsForced by psychological or cosmetic reasons to avoid eating
BenefitsWhen done in controlled conditions, it is found to be beneficial to human health.None at all
Centre of attentionA person who fasts does not always think about himself.An anorexic patient only focusses on himself, destroying relationships.

What is fasting?

Fasting refers to not having food for a period of time, partially or fully.

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It has been promoted by various groups of people worldwide, such as physicians, religious leaders, culturally designated individuals or as a means of protest. Various forms of fasting are as follows:

  1. Medical fasting: Since the 5th century BCE, fasting has been used to cure certain illnesses. In the 21st century, too, it is prescribed by various doctors as a form of disease prevention.
  2. Religious fasting: In various religions, fasting is considered as a means to get closer to their respective gods and goddesses. In various cultures, it was also used as a way to resurrect or anger deities.
  3. Only Zoroastrianism does not promote fasting.
  4. As a form of protest: Fasting is also used to express political and social views to show solidarity or protest. Prominent examples are Mahatma Gandhi and Dick Gregory.

Fasting has various health benefits. During a fast, the body uses stored glucose to obtain energy, after it has been used up, the body burns up fat resulting in weight loss.

It also reduces cholesterol levels. However, a fast should be done after consulting a doctor and following his guidelines. Failure to do so can have various negative effects.

fasting diet

What is anorexia?

Anorexia is a serious mental health condition that can potentially threaten life. It is an eating disorder that appears when a person is in his teenage years or is a young adult.

Sometimes, it can also appear later in life or during preteen years.

Some of the symptoms of this eating disorder include:

  • Infertility
  • Insomnia
  • Brittle nails
  • Constipation
  • Increase in facial hair

In atypical anorexia nervosa, there is no loss in body weight. In anorexia nervosa, the person feels guilty for eating. They are not aware that there is a problem with them.

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Mainly people develop this illness due to concerns about body weight and shape.

Although, the root cause may include a variety of genetic, biological, environmental and other factors. A person is more prone to it if:

  • A relative of him had similar illness
  • Have type 1 diabetes
  • Have family history of depression or any other mental illness.

This illness is curable. Early treatment help in increasing the chances of curing it. A comprehensive plan by a healthcare professional helps fight this eating disorder.

Main Differences Between Fasting and Anorexia

  1. Fasting is done voluntarily, whereas anorexia is not. A person suffering from anorexia is devoid of choice.
  2. Fasting is not a medical condition, whereas anorexia is. Anorexia is an eating disorder.
  3. When done within proper conditions, fasting is not fatal, whereas anorexia can be fatal. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate among all eating disorders.
  4. Fasting is done due to medical, psychological or spiritual reasons. On the other hand, anorexia is forced by cosmetic or psychological reasons forcing a person to feel guilty about eating.
  5. Fasting can have several health benefits if done in controlled conditions. However, anorexia can never be beneficial to health.
Difference Between Fasting and

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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8 thoughts on “Fasting vs Anorexia: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Fasting has been observed for different reasons such as medical, religious and political, and understanding the cultural dynamism is imperative.

  2. The comparison table provides an excellent summary on Anorexia and Fasting, highlighting the key differences between them and clarifying any confusion on the topic.

  3. The comparison table effectively highlights the distinctions between fasting and anorexia, shedding light on the medical and psychological aspects of these conditions.

  4. Anorexia is a complex mental health condition and creating awareness about its symptoms and treatment options is necessary for early intervention and support.

  5. The mention of early intervention and treatment of anorexia is crucial, as it emphasizes the role of healthcare professionals in providing treatment plans for individuals affected by this illness.

  6. The reference sources provide valuable insights and support the content with credible information on the differences between fasting and anorexia nervosa, enhancing the reliability of the article.

  7. Eating disorders are indeed very serious and it is important to differentiate between fasting for health reasons and anorexia nervosa, seeing the differences and similarities is crucial for better understanding.

  8. Increasing the awareness and understanding of anorexia as a mental health condition is essential, and the role of family history and other predisposing factors should not be overlooked.


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