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How Wanting To ‘Lose a Few Kilos’ Almost Cost Woman, 27, Her Life


A woman has shared how the desire to “lose a few kilos” led to eating disorders, long-term health issues and almost cost her life.

Hannah Clare has racked up 1.2 million views for an Instagram clip about her experience. In the post, shared under the handle @hannahhclare, she appears to be thinking and the text layered over it explains that she “just wanted to be healthy,” but adds that now, seven years on, she is “27 with osteoporosis and premature menopause.” Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones.

“I have been fully recovered for around three years but now I am having to deal with the damage I’ve done,” Clare, from Sydney, Australia, told Newsweek. “I have just started hormone replacement therapy as my hormone levels are perimenopausal, but I try not to dwell on this or live with regrets because it’s not going to change my current situation.”

Anorexia
(L-R) Hannah Clare spent six weeks on a hospital’s eating disorder ward when she was 20. She has been left with long-term health issues but is in recovery and uses her platform to advocate for…


Instagram/@hannahhclare

The content creator detailed the unexpected consequences of her diet in the caption, including developing a fear of food, experiencing severe binges and even facing hospitalization.

Clare told Newsweek: “I initially wanted to lose a little weight because I was dissatisfied with my body. I was young and vulnerable and diet culture was very prevalent, not only online but in real life. I thought that if I lost a little weight I’d be happier within my body and just be happier in general.”

But for three years, she suffered with bulimia and then anorexia. Clare said that restricting her food intake caused her organs to start shutting down. In June 2017, aged 20, she spent six weeks on a hospital’s eating disorder ward.

“I didn’t want to go to hospital but I also didn’t want to live with an eating disorder anymore. I knew that I couldn’t recover on my own, though, so going to the hospital was the right thing to do,” Clare said. “The days were structured around meals and group therapy with free time in between. It was an intense and confronting experience.”

Health Consequences

Newsweek discussed Clare’s story with Dr. Cielo Gnecco, an obstetrician and gynecologist, who explained that eating disorders cause abnormalities in a woman’s menstrual cycle due to the lack of nutrients and caloric intake placing a huge stress on the body.

Gnecco, who works at Orlando Health Women’s Institute Center for Obstetrics & Gynecology in Kissimmee, Florida, said: “Patients typically experience amenorrhea, or a lack of menses that can then return back to normal once the eating disorder is corrected. This is referred to as hypothalamic amenorrhea. This is where signaling from the brain to one’s ovaries malfunctions in response to the high metabolic demands that the body experiences from the lack of caloric intake.”

Gnecco said that “low energy availability from increased caloric expenditure and/or insufficient caloric intake can suppress” the system that is in charge of keeping a woman’s hormones in check, “diverting energy away from reproductive processes to more vital systems.” The decrease in signaling from the brain to the ovaries “leads to irregularities in the menstrual cycle and lack of bleeding. It can mirror menopause but this is usually reversible once the patient gets the eating disorder treated,” she added.

Approximately 28.8 million Americans, representing 9 percent of the U.S. population, will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives, states the The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD).

Diet Culture

Newsweek spoke with Elle Mace, a positive psychology coach and master practitioner in eating disorders, body dysmorphia and body image.

She said that diet culture encourages restrictive eating, which can be harmful for many reasons.

“Diet culture promotes an unhealthy relationship with food, often categorizing food as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ This can lead to restrictive eating habits and guilt or shame around food choices,” Mace said. “It can also encourage disordered eating behaviors such as binge eating and even eating disorders such as anorexic or bulimia. Diet culture can normalize extreme behaviors which are harmful to our physical and mental health.”

Mace, from Devon, England, said that diet culture’s one-size-fits-all approach ignores individual health needs, such as differences in body types, genetics and personal health conditions. The pressure to be thin can lead to body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem and negative body image. This constant focus on dieting and weight loss can cause stress, anxiety and depression, detracting from overall mental health and well-being.

Mace stressed that health is multidimensional and should not be solely focused on weight or appearance.

Clare’s road to recovery was far from smooth but she said she has “remained committed” to getting her life back. Now, she uses social media to help others by regularly sharing her story and food recipe ideas. She has also recently launched the Forthright podcast in a bid to end stigmas and promote body positivity.

Instagram Reacts

At the time of writing, Clare’s clip had amassed over 16,000 likes and a sea of support.

One user said: “I think sharing the hard truths is so important. Eating disorders are so dangerous and can harm your body longterm.”

“I know this all too well. Sending love and please don’t be hard on yourself about this,” said another.