'AGT' veteran Jackie Evancho says she has the bones of an 80-year-old due to anorexia

·3 min read
A woman in a dressy white winter coat looks down as she walks out of an archway
Singer Jackie Evancho arrives for former President Trump's 2017 inauguration in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb / Associated Press)

Jackie Evancho, the 2010 "America's Got Talent" runner-up, just revealed that her ongoing struggle with anorexia has led to larger health issues.

The 22-year-old singer, who at age 10 was the runner-up on Season 5 of "America's Got Talent," talked to People about her recent health scares.

Evancho said in an article published Wednesday that in January 2021 she was in a car accident that broke her back in two places — an unusual occurrence given her age and the severity of the crash.

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

According to the National Institutes of Health, osteoporosis is a medical condition in which bones become less dense and more susceptible to injury. The disease often goes unnoticed until a fracture occurs, as was the case with Evancho.

Anorexia and osteoporosis are linked because the eating disorder often takes place during adolescence, which is crucial time for bone development. The longer the anorexia goes on, the more the bones lose density and become less likely to return to normal.

Evancho said she developed anorexia at 15 and would "go days without eating." She sought treatment at 17 but continued to struggle with the eating disorder throughout the pandemic.

Even after her osteoporosis diagnosis, Evancho found it difficult to reassess her relationship with food.

"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 said. "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.'"

After recovering from the accident, she pursued treatment for anorexia in October 2021 and said her recovery is ongoing.

"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," Evancho said. "I'm not healthy yet, but I have been able to implement healthy coping skills and better eating habits."

The singer also took to Instagram on Wednesday to share a message of hope and update her followers on her progress.

"I recently posted a video on my social media that caused a lot of my fans to comment on my weight and health. I won't lie, some of the comments hit me hard but I know that a lot of you don't know my truth very well," she wrote.

"It's scary to tell your truth, especially if it's more dark than you'd like to admit, but it's also freeing. I hope you all know that I love my fans and if I'm not active on social media, it's because I'm working on an ongoing issue that won't ever truly go away. But it is never because I don't love my fans."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.