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‘AGT’ alum Jackie Evancho opens up about anorexia and resulting osteoporosis

The 22-year-old singer was diagnosed with osteoporosis after a car accident that broke her back in two places.
Jackie Evancho In Concert - Louisville, KY
Jackie Evancho is using her music to heal.Stephen J. Cohen / Getty Images

Jackie Evancho's battle with anorexia has led to another health challenge.

The singer, who established a successful career after appearing on "America's Got Talent" at the age of 10, just revealed that she has been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

In an interview with People magazine, the 22-year-old opened up about her eating disorder and the 2021 car accident that broke her back in two places and led to her osteoporosis diagnosis.

“They were abnormal breaks, breaks that you see in 80-year-olds,” Evancho said. “That’s how I learned that my eating problems created osteoporosis. So now I’m a 22-year-old with osteoporosis.”

Osteoporosis refers to a condition where bones lose density and can more easily break. Research shows that people with anorexia can lose bone mass early in their illness, per the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Very low body weight in females can cause the body to stop producing estrogen, which can decrease bone density. People with anorexia also tend to produce high levels of the hormone cortisol, which triggers bone loss, and to develop calcium deficiency, malnutrition and low production of growth hormone, all of which decrease bone density.

Even after Evancho learned she was dealing with osteoporosis, she wasn’t terribly eager to tackle her eating disorder head-on.

“I had to eat (for my bones) to heal, and that really messed me up with my eating problems, because I was gaining weight to heal,” she explained. “Once I finally healed, my disorder said, ‘OK, now you’ve got to be really hard on yourself to get all of that out of you ... and then some.’”

The singer has been dealing with her eating disorder for seven years, and she has gone through both inpatient and outpatient treatment. Evancho found it particularly hard to combat her disordered eating when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“The urge to restrict what I’m eating, on top of eating because I’m bored, and panic because I have this distorted view of myself in the mirror ... it made everything really difficult,” she said. “There weren’t distractions during COVID.”

To treat on her illness, Evancho sees a nutritionist and therapist.

“I’m still struggling, but I’m fighting, which is good, because a year ago I was giving in to it completely, and that’s so dark and painful,” she said. “I’m not healthy yet, but I have been able to implement healthy coping skills and better eating habits.”

The singer is also tapping into her pain to inspire new music and to push her to conquer her eating disorder.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve put so much blood, sweat and tears into my career, and to see that sort of fade away because of this demon in my head? No, I’m going to fight this now because you can’t take this one thing from me," she said.