Understanding the Common Types of Eating Disorders

Understanding the Common Types of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders often develop in people who give too much concern on how they look and their body weight. Their being overly distressed about this physical aspect results in having irregular eating habits that lead to eating disorders.

Some types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating. The symptoms of these conditions vary, but the main telltale sign is excessive eating or insufficient eating.

Anyone can fall victim to these eating disorders. But there are more teens and early adults who develop these conditions.

If you know somebody who has these eating disorders, which will be described below, it is important that they get medical help right away. Getting professional treatment will prevent detrimental consequences like depression and substance abuse later on.

Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa

This eating disorder is common in people who are obsessively fearful of gaining weight. Anorexics have a distorted perception of their body weight. They think that they are overweight even if they’re not. Actually, they are already underweight because of eating too little.

Other health consequences of anorexia nervosa are brain damage, bone loss, multi-organ failure, heart problems and infertility. They have a high risk of death as well.


Bulimia nervosa

People who have this eating disorder eat big amounts food, which is also called binge eating. But they force themselves to vomit the food afterwards to compensate for eating too much.

Bulimics also tend to engage in too much exercise or take too much laxatives or diuretics. Just like anorexics, they are not happy with their weight and fear gaining pounds.

When they binge and purge, they do it in secret. They feel guilty and shameful about it but seem to have no control over it. If they do not receive help, they can suffer from severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, heart problems and gastrointestinal problems.


Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eaters do not have any control in eating. They eat and eat but do not purge or overly exercise like bulimics. That’s why they are usually obese.

Binge eaters often have health conditions associated with obesity like cardiovascular disease. In addition, they tend to suffer from distress, shame and guilt, which make them eat all the more.

There are many reasons why people develop these eating disorders but it is difficult to pinpoint which one is the exact cause. Here are some of the possible causes of eating disorders:

  • Biological factors include hormonal imbalance, genetics and nutritional deficiencies.
  • Psychological factors like negative body image and poor self-esteem
  • Environmental factors include the demand of being thin in certain careers like modeling and ballet-dancing
  • Dysfunctional family situations
  • Peer pressure
  • Stress at work


Family has an important role in helping victims of eating disorders. Developing good family relationships and healthy eating habits are essential. Parents need to pay attention to their kids, especially the teens who are susceptible to these conditions.

When found to have these eating disorders, make sure to find professional help immediately. These disorders can be treated, so get help to prevent more detrimental consequences.

Photo credit: Image by daniellehelm via Flickr, CC by 2.0

Categories: Health