What is an Eating Disorder?

 

A lot of young people, worry about their weight, shape or food. However, for some, these difficulties can take over and turn into a serious eating disorder.

Someone with an eating disorder might feel they need to be on a strict diet, exercise, or find other ways to lose weight to cope with how they are feeling – and they might not know how to stop..

Regularly overeating and experiencing loss of control over what, when or how much to eat can also be signs of an eating problem. Anyone can develop an eating disorder.

They can happen in young people of all backgrounds and cultures. Eating disorders are not exclusive to girls and young women. Boys and young men can also be affected.

Anorexia Nervosa (AN)

Someone with anorexia nervosa is not eating enough food to be healthy, and may worry a lot about eating, body weight or body shape. Behaviours such as eating very little or over-exercising can lead to them losing a lot of weight.

Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

Someone with bulimia nervosa also worries a lot about body weight and body shape. They alternate between eating next to nothing, and then having binges when they over-eat and feel out of control. They may vomit or take laxatives to control their weight.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Someone with binge eating disorder has frequent episodes of binge eating, often feeling out of control, uncontrollably full or ashamed.

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)

This is when someone has considerable difficulty and distress around eating. Some but not all of the features of AN, BN or BED are present.

 

Key Point

If you’re worried someone you care about is showing the signs of an eating disorder, the first step is to talk to them and encourage them to seek help from their GP.