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What You Need To Know about Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a group of serious illnesses that most often start with worrying about food and weight. But they are likely about much more.

Unfortunately, in America eating disorders are common. Over two in 100 teens (ages 13-17) have an eating disorder according the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The first step in solving this issue is to educate ourselves. Keep reading to find out what you need to know about eating disorders.

There are many types of eating disorders

The three most common eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia nervosa – You are obsessed with being thin and starve yourself to lose weight.
  • Bulimia nervosa – You often eat a large amount of food in a short period of time and then throw up or workout excessively to get rid of the calories.
  • Binge eating disorder – You eat a large amount of food (binge). But unlike with bulimia nervosa, you would not throw up or work out afterwards.

Both females and males suffer from eating disorders

Females are more likely to have an eating disorder than males. But, that does not mean that boys and men do not have eating disorders. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 4-10% of men in college have an eating disorder.

People of all ages have eating disorders

Despite popular belief, teens and young adults are not the only ones who have eating disorders. Girls, boys, men and women have eating disorders.

Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices

Eating disorders are serious medical/psychiatric illnesses that need to be treated. They are not phases or ways to get attention. If ignored, symptoms can become life-threatening.

Biological, mental and social factors can all lead to eating disorders

We still do not know what exactly causes eating disorders. But, we do know of some the broad factors that can lead to eating disorders. Studies show that genetics may play a role.  Also, people with eating disorders often have a history of low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and troubled relationships. Culture may also play a role.

Eating disorders are more widespread in Western nations where there is a pressure to be thin and diet.

People with eating disorders need help and support

If you know someone who you believe has an eating disorder, reach out to his/her and express your concern in a loving and caring way. Encourage your loved one to go see a health provider so that he/she can be diagnosed and treated. While recovery may be hard, it is possible. If his/her condition is immediately life threatening please call 911.

Sources: National Institute of Mental Health, National Eating Disorders Association, Mayo Clinic

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