Diet and Nutrition

The Different Types of Eating Disorders

The Different Types of Eating Disorders

Key Takeaways

  • There is no single cause for a person to develop an eating disorder.
  • People who have anorexia nervosa often see themselves as fat.
  • Bulimia is rare in children and young people.

Eating disorders are not just conditions related to food. They are serious physical and emotional problems which may have life-threatening outcomes for men and women. Eating disorders are not trends or lifestyle choices.  Anyone can have an eating disorder despite their sex, age or cultural background. However, young women, particularly those between the ages of 12 to 20, are most likely to develop eating disorders.

There is no single cause for a person to develop an eating disorder. Psychological, genetic, biological, environmental and social influences are all associated to the development of eating disorders.

People who have eating disorders must seek professional help to manage their condition. There is therefore a better likelihood of recovery both physical and emotional.

Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a mental illness wherein people maintain their body weight low through diet, vomiting, exercising excessively or using laxatives. People who have anorexia nervosa often have a distorted view of themselves. For example, they think that they’re overweight when they’re not. In addition, people with anorexia often attempt to hide their condition from their loved ones. 

Anorexia nervosa can be associated with low self-esteem, depression, self-harm and alcohol misuse. People with this condition usually see their weight loss as an achievement, which helps increase their self confidence.

This condition is serious due to the effects of starvation to the body.

Bulimia

Bulimia is a type of eating disorder where people believe they have lost control of eating. People with bulimia often eat huge quantities of food or are always bingeing, then vomit or take laxatives to prevent weight gain.

People with this condition often have healthy weights but hide their behavior to their family and friends. They tend to not seek support or medical help. They may also experience mood swings and anxiety. 

Bulimia is rare in children and young people. It typically develops at a slightly older age compared to anorexia. Some cases of bulimia develop from anorexia nervosa.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge eating disorder is a condition where people experience loss of control and overeat regularly.

Binge eating is comprised of consuming large quantities of food for a short period of time. People who binge eat eat often, even if they’re not hungry. It is usually planned. After people finish binge eating, they feel guilt or disgust over their lack of self-control.

Unlike the people with bulimia, binge eaters do not attempt to manage their weight. Thus, many of them are overweight or obese. This condition can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Binge eating disorder affects both men and women and is more common in adults. It is correlated to marked distress. A person who binges at least once a week for three months or more could have binge eating disorder. 

Other Types of Eating Disorders

Below are the other types of eating disorders. They are a combination of the signs and symptoms of bulimia, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder. These types may or may not be officially recognized.

  • Eating disorder not otherwise specified
  • Orthorexia
  • Night eating syndrome
  • Nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder