Appearances, as I’m sure you know, can be deceiving. In one all-too-common example, adolescents and young adults with disordered eating habits or outright eating disorders often go unrecognized by both parents and physicians because their appearance defies common beliefs: they don’t look like they have an eating problem.

One such belief is that people with anorexia always look scrawny and malnourished when in fact they may be of normal weight or even overweight, according to recent research at the University of California, San Francisco.

The researchers, led by Dr. Jason M. Nagata, a specialist in adolescent medicine at the university’s Benioff Children’s Hospital, found in a national survey that distorted eating behaviors occur in young people irrespective of their weight, gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. And it’s not just about losing weight.

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