In general, the eating disorders:
There are two main categories of eating disorder:
involve an overwhelming drive or desire to be thin.
involve a distorted perception of body image, so that
people with eating disorders see themselves as fatter than they really
involve loss of control over eating (bulimia) or excessive
restriction of food intake (anorexia).
involve excessive preoccupation with body weight and
involve a strong association between self-worth and
body weight and shape.
are culturally specific; until recently they were found
almost exclusively in Western cultures where food is plentiful. They
are found predominantly in cultures where thinness is valued.
mainly affect females of upper socioeconomic status.
onset (of the two major eating disorders, anorexia and
bulimia) is typically in adolescence. Because of this, eating disorders
were classified with Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence prior to the DSM-IV.
A third type of eating disorder is currently under consideration
but is not yet officially listed as a disorder in the DSM-IV: binge-eating
disorder. Binge-eating disorder is similar to bulimia, but without the
purging. Because binge-eating behavior occurs without purging, people with
binge-eating disorder may gain considerable weight.
Bulimia nervosa involves alternation between
binge eating and purging. People with bulimia may or may not be thin.
However, they want to be thin, and they maintain whatever weight they are
at by purging after episodes of binge eating.
Anorexia nervosa involves maintaining an extremely
low body weight (at least 15% below desirable weight for height) either
by restricting food intake (restricting type) or by purging (binge-eating/purging
type). Anorexic females stop menstruating. In fact, a woman
must miss at least three consecutive menstrual cycles to receive a diagnosis
This page was last updated on Tuesday October 21, 2003.