Eating disorders are real illnesses that can affect how we eat and how we
feel about food. They can be treated to help people who have them have healthy and full
lives. From time to time, we all change our eating habits. Sometimes we reduce the amount
of food we eat or go on a diet to shed some pounds, or we eat more to gain weight. These
can be healthy ways to control or reach our ideal body weight. But, people who have eating
disorders have unhealthy ways, or patterns, of eating. They may eat too much and become
overweight, or way too little and become very thin. Sometimes a person can eat so little,
or nothing at all, they actually begin to starve (called anorexia nervosa). A person can also
eat an extreme amount of food all at once and then do things like vomit to rid the body of
food (called bulimia nervosa).
And, a person may not be able to control the need to overeat, often keeping it a secret
(called binge eating disorder).
People can also have wrong ideas, or misperceptions, of their body weight. People with
eating disorders can feel certain they weigh too much, even though they may be well under
the ideal body weight for a person their size.
Eating disorders affect people of all ages, race, and income levels. But, these
disorders affect women much more than they do men. Women make up more than 90 percent of
people with these disorders. Without treatment, an eating disorder can take over a
person's life and cause serious illness and death. These disorders can increase risk for osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) and
heart problems. People who have eating disorders can also have depression and anxiety, and may turn to
alcohol and drugs for relief.
Occurrence of Eating Disorders
Causes of Eating Disorders
Types of Eating Disorders
Recognizing Eating Disorders
Eating Disorder Treatments
Pregnancy and Eating Disorders
Seeking Help for Eating Disorders