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Eating Disorder

An eating disorder is a type of mental health issue that can greatly impact a person’s emotional and physical well-being. Abnormal eating patterns, such as restricting food intake, binge eating, or purging, are common characteristics of eating disorders, which can harm the body and contribute to psychological problems like low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

Eating disorders are not a choice or lifestyle, but rather a complex biopsychosocial disorder that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, culture, race, or socioeconomic status. They have been present throughout history, but were only officially recognized as psychiatric disorders in the late 20th century.

The term “anorexia nervosa” was coined in 1873 by Sir William Gull to describe a condition of self-starvation, while “bulimia nervosa” was introduced by Gerald Russell in 1979 to describe a pattern of bingeing and purging. These disorders were formally recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1980, and the DSM-5 introduced new categories and criteria for eating disorders, such as binge-eating disorder and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder in 2013.


According to experts, there are several factors that can lead to the development of eating disorders. Genetics is one such factor; individuals who have a family member with an eating disorder are thought to be at a greater risk of developing one themselves. Personality traits are also believed to play a role, with neuroticism, perfectionism, and impulsivity being three traits that are often associated with a heightened risk of developing an eating disorder, as suggested by a 2015 review of research.


There are several types of eating disorders, the most well-known ones are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. However, six types of eating disorders have been documented by reputable online health sources, and they are described briefly below:

1. Anorexia nervosa: This disorder occurs when individuals limit their food intake to such an extent that they become substantially underweight.

2. Bulimia nervosa: This condition is characterized by binge eating large quantities of food and then purging it by vomiting, using laxatives, or exercising excessively.

3. Binge eating disorder: This condition involves regularly consuming excessive amounts of food without purging.

4. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID): This is when individuals experience an extreme fear of certain foods or textures, resulting in significant weight loss or nutritional deficiencies.

5. Pica: Pica is an eating disorder in which individuals consume non-food items that have no nutritional value, such as ice, dirt, soap, or paper.

6. Rumination disorder: This newly recognized eating disorder involves individuals regurgitating previously swallowed food, re-chewing it, and either spitting it out or swallowing it again within 30 minutes after a meal.


Treatments aimed at eating disorders are available and intervening early is crucial for successful healing. A collaborative approach involving medical, dietary, and emotional support is typically utilized for treatment. The therapy, medication, and dietary guidance are some of the interventions that may be involved in the treatment.


Some figures on eating disorders are as follows: A recent evaluation discovered that globally, the lifetime occurrence of eating disorders for women was 8.4% (with a range of 3.3-18.6%) and for men, it was 2.2% (with a range of 0.8-6.5%). The data further revealed that the prevalence of eating disorders has been on the rise over time (Galmiche, 2019). Among those with eating disorders, 47% suffer from Binge Eating Disorder, 12% from Bulimia Nervosa, 3% from Anorexia Nervosa, and 38% from other types of eating disorders.


Eating Disorders – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):

Eating disorder – Wikipedia:

Eating disorders – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic:

Eating Disorders: Types, Causes, Treatment, and Recovery – Healthline:

A Patient’s Guide to Eating Disorders – US News Health:

Gerald Russell, who first identified the condition of bulimia – obituary: 

Gerald Francis Morris Russell, MD, FRCP, FRCPsych, DPM, Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 October 2018: 

Sir William Withey Gull, 1st Baronet

English physician: 

What are Eating Disorders?: 

Changes to the classification of Eating Disorders in DSM-5] [Article in German]

Susanne Knoll et al. Z KinderJugendpsychiatr Psychother. 2014 Sep: 

Eating Disorder Statistics from National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):  

Eating disorder statistics and facts 2023 | SingleCare:

2023 Eating Disorder Statistics: 79 Unthinkable Facts – Break Binge Eating:

Eating Disorder Statistics | General & Diversity Stats | ANAD:

Research and statistics on issues relating to eating disorders:,.al.%2C%202019 

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