Kirstie Allie's yo-yo weight

kirstie alley before and after

Actress and TV host, Kirstie Alley, enjoyed her greatest television success in the 1980s and early 90s but she still hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the decades following her career.

In the early days, best remembered as Rebecca Howe in the hit series ‘Cheers’, she was almost a pin-up model. Her striking looks and slim figure were the focus of many viewers’ attention and she was much sought after because of it.

After the ‘Cheers’ days she enjoyed several years playing opposite John Travolta in the popular ‘Look Who’s Talking’ trilogy and further success with three years in ‘Veronica’s Closet’. But in the years following her pinnacle as a TV ‘hottie’ she slipped into an ongoing battle with her weight and the spotlight shifted from her charm and good looks to her increasing dress size.

After her active TV career ended, Alley ballooned and she was plagued by the paparazzi who were quick to publish very unflattering photos of her in the media (yes, just as we have).


Kirstie Alley has become like a pair of bellows.  Her weight loss and gain has been well covered by the press

At the time she weighed over 200 lbs (over 90kg) and was declared clinically obese. In 2004 she admitted to battling her severe weight issues by becoming the spokesperson for Jenny Craig, a weight loss and management company.

In 2006, after following the Jenny Craig program for two years, Alley appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show in a bikini to show off her success and the American public lapped it up. Her achievement was celebrated in the United States and gave hope to a growing nation of obese couch potatoes who were searching for a cure to their own weight issues.

Although painful at the time, Kirstie says that one particularly hideous photo of her in a tabloid publication made her realize it was time to do something about her excessive weight and take better care of her health in the process.

The successful weight loss didn’t last though and after she walked away from the role of spokesperson for Jenny Craig piled on the weight once again.

Kirstie Alley as seen when she first appeared on Cheers


During an interview with Oprah she said: ”When you’re a spokesperson for a weight loss company … somebody weighs you every week. It’s pressure but it’s good pressure. I do better if I have some pressure on me,”

When I didn’t have that anymore … I just said, ‘I’m going to cut myself some slack.’ Big mistake.”

She stopped weighing herself and it was almost 18 months before she stepped up onto the plate again. The worst aspect was the guilt she felt, thinking that she let a lot of people down, people who looked up to her and admired her strength of will.

She admits that she has never really had control over her weight but says the best thing that came out of trying to lose weight and battling the bulge was quitting smoking.

Complications with Diabetes Contributed to Brittany Murphy's Death

Brittany Murphy at her healthiest looking

Former actress and drug abuser, Brittany Murphy, was found unresponsive in the shower by her mother who told paramedics that her ailing daughter suffered with Type 2 Diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, or ‘diabetes mellitus type 2’, is the most common form of diabetes and occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, or when cells in the body ignore the insulin it produces.

Essentially, the body uses insulin to break down the sugar from food and transport it across through the blood system to cells. This conversion of sugar and starches makes glucose which is required for energy.

When the body’s cells do not obtain enough glucose due to a lack insulin production, or when the cells ignore the insulin, it can cause serious consequences. The body’s cells first begin to starve which leads to high levels of glucose in the blood. This can lead to organ damage with kidneys, liver and heart affected most commonly. It can also impair sight and can seriously damage nerves.

Brittany Murphy looking painfully thin. Eating disorders, drug overuse and diabetes contributed to her death.

Anyone suffering with diabetes, just as Brittany Murphy did, stand a much higher risk of suffering from heart attacks or dying as a result of cardiovascular disease.

Whether diabetes played a role in the death of the actress remains unknown for now but questions have been raised about the pressure on actresses to be ‘thin at all costs’ after Brittany’s anorexic struggles. It has been suggested that her eating disorder played a major part in her death.

Other factors mentioned as contributors were her minor heart condition.

Brittany Murphy in Clueless

Despite starring in films such as ‘8 Mile’, ‘Clueless’ and ‘Girl Interrupted’, Brittany Murphy’s substance abuse and eating disorders have been well documented. Clearly she was beset by mental health issues which ultimately led to her demise.

Upon their arrival at her house, paramedics tried to revive her but all attempts failed and she was pronounced dead on arrival at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

Thandie Newton almost wasted away with bulimia

Thandie Newton

Zambian-born Hollywood star Thandie Newton has always been open about her bulimia. The eating disorder affected her life at the tender age of 14 when she was training to be a ballerina. Her struggle lasted a year and left her scarred both physically and mentally.

I had terrible bulimia for about a year … I ate nothing but cottage cheese. I’ve still got the scars on my knuckles from where I put my fingers down my throat.”

After that year she put it to rest and lived a moderately normal life but it reared its ugly head in her early 20s.

I’d been involved with this guy for a long time, he was much older than me and I felt a lot of shame about my sexual relationship with him.”

I would have these dinners with him and then go back to the flat and I’d throw up. Then I went out with someone who was emotionally abusive, criticizing me the whole time.”

Thandie Newton looking very thin

Thandie Newton looking very thin

After two abusive relationships she realized it was time to seek help; that living with an eating disorder would only lead her to more misery.

While working on a film shoot in Los Angeles she enlisted the help of a therapist.

I saw a therapist for the first time,” she said. “After that first session, I never threw up again. I had made the connection between shame and self abuse.”

This ‘Mission: Impossible II’ actress successfully recovered from bulimia through the initial therapy and then with support and determination. After working herself into super slim looks she fell into a healthy relationship and has developed a love of children.

I keep getting pregnant. So one day I’m slim and the next I have a bump. In the last two years my body has changed so much. I think the Hollywood size is a bad thing. I don’t stick to any diets. I eat when I’m hungry. Thankfully I have my mother’s frame and I’ve always been slim.”

Today, leading a wonderful and healthy life, Thandie is working hard on her films and motherhood and when asked about her self-perception she cheerfully replies: “I see a happy, defiant, loving friend.”


Susan Dey's family support helped her through anorexia

Susan Dey overcame anorexia

Susan Dey’s attractive, fresh-faced charm landed her a role in the hit television series ‘The Partridge Family’. With no prior acting experience she took on the role of Laurie, the eldest daughter of the fictional family but with little in the way of guidance at the time she began to develop her eating disorder.

At the height of her illness she weighed a mere 92 pounds and stopped menstruating. Her skin colour became orange because she was reportedly eating nothing but carrots.

Anorexia researchers say that this is a common trend observed in people suffering from eating disorders: they eat exclusively one type of food.

Mono-meals are actually quite a natural thing which harkens back to our foraging days when we would hang around in one place and consume whatever we found – that usually being one thing.

Susan reportedly realized she had a problem during a cast party at the beach when Danny Bonaduce saw her in a bikini and commented, “What’s wrong with you?! Your skin is orange! You look disgusting.”

Susan Dey in the Partridge Family

Susan Dey in the Partridge Family

20 years later, Susan gave an exclusive interview in which she admitted she was still not over her eating disorder.

I’m not in the clear yet – I’m still trying to overcome my anorexia, It’s something that has been plaguing my life.”

Beating a severe eating disorder is something you can not do alone,” she added.

Eventually she did overcome anorexia and now works as a member of the board at UCLA’s ‘Rape Treatment Center’ where she is giving something back to other women suffering personal traumas.

Her TV career earned her critical acclaim and after her four-year stint with ‘The Partridge Family’ she moved onto ‘LA Law’ where she played Grace van Owen, a role that won her a Golden Globe, three statues at the Emmy’s and many other nominations.

Stephanie Pratt flaunted bulimia in front of her mom

Stephanie Pratt in 'The Hills'

Stephanie shot to fame through her role in the hit TV series ‘The Hills’ but during that time she caved in to public opinion and that led to a period of her life struggling with a return of bulimia; an illness she suffered with as a child.

As a young girl her parents were very conservative and she flaunted her problems in front of them without them ever noticing, knowing that there would be little chance of them working things out.

My mom and dad were very hands-on parents. They were never on vacations or anything like that, and I did everything right under their noses — I did drugs, I threw up my food — in the same house as them. And for them to never see that, my mom was just like, ‘What did I do wrong?’ ”

The ‘Hills’ star wanted to share her problems as they are being mirrored in so many young women who live apparently ‘normal’ lives and who are not subject to the pressures of the media limelight.

If she had known the signs of what to look for, I could have been helped a lot earlier,” she said about her mother.

I’m so thankful I got professional help and I’m healthy now, but I just really wanted to do this to help all of those moms to see those signs in their daughters. [Bulimia is] such an ugly, ugly word. I wish I could have danced around it and said I had eating issues, but this isn’t an article for me to shine.”

Stephanie Pratt displaying weight loss

Stephanie Pratt displaying weight loss spared rumours of eating disorders

The rumour mill went into overdrive about her eating disorders after Stephanie, the sister of Spencer Pratt (who is married to Heidi Montag), joined the cast of a reality TV show.

Although not officially confirmed that she suffered a relapse of her bulimia she was quoted as saying at the time: “I can’t believe how huge I look walking over to Lauren.’”

There were indications that she was unhappy with her body and these clues fuelled the fires for plenty of publications to have a field day. She reportedly once said: “It’s embarrassing working with skinny girls.”

After some help from her friends and family she has come to terms with herself and is now living a much healthier lifestyle.

Sally Field became bulimic after joining the Hollywood crew

Sally Field is all smiles after overcoming bulimia

During the early years of her career critically acclaimed actress Sally Field was struggling to live with bulimia. She realises that the illness began in her early 20s and it continued to dog her for a further three years.

The pressure of being around so many slimmer actresses weighted heavy on her mind and that sowed the seeds of her disorder

Everybody then was Twiggy, except me.”

A young Sally Field before her brush with eating disorders

A young Sally Field before her brush with eating disorders

The actress who featured in popular TV show the ‘Flying Nun’ and in the ”Smokey and the Bandit’ films where she starred alongside Burt Reynolds used to binge on balloons and candy during the filming of the popular 1960s show.

She became concerned when she drastically lost weight and the eating disorder converted her healthy body into a fragile one.

I was losing so much bone density that I would have been in grave danger. And I mean grave danger. If I had let it go just a few more years I could have broken my hip or spine just picking up my granddaughter.”

Sally’s battled with bulimia and anorexia didn’t leave her body unharmed and in a candid interview with People magazine she told them: “I would lose 10 or 15 pounds in a week, eating nothing but cucumbers and working all day. My hands would shake all the time, and sometimes I’d pass out. But then I would go on these enormous binges. I lived alone and was very lonely.”

She eventually returned to a normal lifestyle and with it came the realisation that that no-one can judge your body and that to be swayed by the opinion of others is complete counterproductive to a healthy state of mind.

It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes.”

Though Sally, 63, now suffers from osteoporosis, she is on a normal and healthy diet so as to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Anorexic Portia De Rossi almost proud to weigh 82 lbs

Portia De Rossi opens up to Oprah Winfrey about anorexia battle

Portia De Rossi lived on 300 calories per day during the height of her anorexia, a fact she shared with another well documented eating disorder victim, Oprah WInfrey.

A tearful De Rossi admitted that it was almost a proud achievement to weigh in at just 82 lbs.

It wasn’t that I was proud of it,“ she told her host, “But it was certainly a recognition for my self control.“

As part of her purging ritual she would take up to 20 laxatives a day and her sense of personal perspective was seriously derailed by a ‘win or oblivion’ mentality

I would prefer to die than fail another diet.“ Became her clarion call.

De Rossi’s problems began when she left her native Australia for Hollywood and landed a role in US drama ‘Ally McBeal’, starring alongside Calista Flockhart, who was also battling anorexia at the time.

I’ve often wondered if I wasn’t on that show if it (anorexia) may not have happened. I didn’t really know at that point what it was like to be a celebrity, and the only people I knew at the time who had a similar experience were these women whom I worked with. They became my role models.”

Portia De Rossi almost hits her lowest weight of 82lbs

Portia De Rossi almost hits her lowest weight of 82lbs

De Rossi though was fortunate to have help on hand and were it not for the love of her wife, Ellen Degeneres, she fears she would have been consumed by the illness.

The couple were introduced at concert for ‘Rock The Vote’ in March 2001 and De Rossi admitted she was instantly smitten. In that year things had gone awry as she’d been diagnosed with oesteoporosis, cirrhosis of the liver, organ failure and the auto-immune disease lupus.

Ellen has taught me not to care about other people’s opinions,“

She saw a glimpse of my inner being from underneath the flesh and bone, reached in and pulled me out.“

In August 2008 De Rossi married Degeneres, who is 15 years her senior, in a private ceremony in their Beverly Hills home.

Now, with her life on track, she has written a memoir detailing her struggles with anorexia called ‘Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain.’

Paula Abdul battled bulimia for years

Paula Abdul

Famous American dancer, recording artist and American Idol judge, Paula Abdul, admits her life is a perfect learning example to anyone suffering from bulimia. Known for her great dance moves, figure hugging outfits and a string of 80s hits including, “What have you done for me lately?” she enojyed critical acclaim in the public eye but away from the glare, lurking in the shadows she quietly battled against bulimia.

She used to binge eat for short periods before purging however possible, a process which lasted for 17 long years.

Battling bulimia has been like war on my body. Me and my body have been on two separate sides. We’ve never, until recently, been on the same side.”

She says she always saw herself as a little too short and fat, and claims that her eating disorder was a punishment for her body. She was a constant source of disappointment to herself and when eventually speaking openly about it she said, “I learned at a very early age I didn’t fit in physically. I learned through years of rejections from auditions…. I would ask myself, “Why can’t I be tall and skinny like the other dancers?”

Paula Abdul had a torrid time with bulimia

Paula Abdul had a torrid time with bulimia

Years after overcoming bulimia, Paula reflected on those horrendous times: “It became a living hell for me. I wanted to get help. I want to be free from weighing myself on the scales”.

I used to be a fanatic. I used to exercise four or five times a day.

Now it’s different. I don’t exercise too much for the wrong reasons. Three times a week I’ll do some cardiovascular or aerobic activity.”

She sought treatment in 1994 opting to take psychiatric treatment to end the 17 years of ‘living hell’. She spent a solid month in treatment after which she began the slow process of healing.

Always her own harshest critic she reflects on her time in rehab where she had a series of epiphanies: “I thought `God I’m not perfect. I’m going to disappoint people. That’s what I thought.”

But nowadays looking in the mirror is no longer a traumatic affair and her issues about her height and weight are a thing of the past.

I have my moments when I look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m okay.’ I refuse to weigh myself. I don’t have scales in my house”.

Mary-Kate Olsen developed anorexia from living in her sister's shadow

Mary-Kate Olsen thinning away

A startling amount of young celebrities suffer with eating disorders during their lives. The two seem inextricably linked and yet the exact causes of conditions such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa still remain unclear.

Many medical professionals have suggested that factors such as low self esteem, a tendency towards obsessive compulsive behaviour and external pressures to be thin can all act as catalysts.

Anorexia sufferers attempt to starve themselves, whereas bulimics will experience bouts of binge eating followed by purging – be it through vomiting or the consumption of laxatives.

Women are ten times more likely to develop an eating disorder than men, although the number of male cases coming to light is growing.

Certain career styles are more prone to causing the illness and in the fashion and entertainment industry having a slim physique is absolutely essential, no matter the cost.

It is no surprise that these particular professions cause the highest number of female workers falling prey to eating disorders, such is the pressure to be thin and ‘sexy’.

Mary-Kate Olsen

Mary-Kate Olsen developed anorexia through insecurities about her sister

Actress Mary-Kate Olsen battled with anorexia since becoming an adult. She has often spoken of a feeling of inadequacy when living in the shadow of her twin sister Ashley.

I look in the mirror and I’m like why do you look pretty and I look ugly?”

Shortly after her 18th birthday she lost weight drastically, forcing her family to intervene and in 2004 she was checked into a rehabilitation facility in Utah to deal with her illness.

Talking candidly about her struggle and the lessons she has taken away from it, the socialite remarked: “I think it’s important that what anybody goes through — and I’m not saying that it’s true or not true — you realize it’s part of growing up. Everybody is going to go through hard times. It’s a part of life. I think the hardest part to get to is that point of asking for help or reaching out to other people and being honest with yourself. I do not want to go through my life with my eyes shut. And I don’t want to go through it with a closed mind. I want to be aware of things. And I’d rather know than not know,”

In 2004, having gained 15 pounds and developing a healthier relationship with her body, Mary-Kate reflected upon her experiences: “I’m sure growing up in the public eye wasn’t easy; can you imagine being famous since you were 9 months old? That’s crazy! They can’t even poop or get Starbucks without making headlines.”


Kirsten Haglund overcame anorexia to become Miss America

kirsten haglund

Kirsten Haglund was crowned Miss America in 2008 but the road to that achievement was a potted and broken one. Her biggest obstacle was a battle with anorexia which troubled her for four years prior to the pageant.

The former Miss Michigan said the eating disorder began when she was just 15 years old.

There is a lot of pressure and extra stress in a college student’s life.”

Many young women struggle in this diet culture … it’s like a big melting pot, which can lend toward the formation of an eating disorder.”

Her strict dance schedules in lowered self esteem in the midst of a traumatic puberty drove the young Haglund towards a strict eating regimen. Unfortunately it wasn’t a balanced diet and her health declined, her weight dropped alarmingly and her menstrual cycle ceased.

She could no longer give her all to her love of ballet and she descended into a state of severe depression.

kirsten haglund during miss america

kirsten haglund during miss america

The lie that nobody ever tells you is that I thought I was supposed to be happier and stronger by dieting and losing weight, but that is just not true. All of these things that were supposed to be getting better by dieting were getting worse.”

Her parents noticed she was getting progressively thinner and they eventually took her to see a doctor who diagnosed her condition as anorexia.

She endured some terrible physical problems including a much slower and erratic heart rate as well as the pronunciation of her skeleton through her thinning skin.

I would feel fatigued walking up six stairs,” she said.

I was a completely different person. It’s not a pretty sight.”

She never disclosed her weight during the competition, despite having an amazing figure, because she didn’t want to set standards for young women obsessed with losing weight.

After being crowned Miss America in 2008 she still tirelessly works to raise awareness about eating disorders and a distorted self image which a rapidly growing number of young people are affected by these days.

In her own words: “Eating disorders have become an epidemic these days.”