Eating Disorders


Eating disorders are addiction illnesses and are one of the most dangerous and difficult to treat. This is because it is a mental disorder and many different things can cause them. Such as genetics, physical or social abuse, and psychological factors. And whether you are young or old you can be at risk of developing an eating disorder.

3 Main Types:

Anorexia nervosa: Severe weight loss, a fear of weight gain, and an obsession with a thin figure. People who suffer with Anorexia often have problems with distorted body image and not being able to see what their body truly looks like.

  • Health Consequences:
    • Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure
    • Reduction of bone density (results in dry, brittle bones)
    • Muscle loss and weakness
    • Severe dehydration (can result in kidney failure)
    • Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness
    • Dry hair and skin (hair loss is common)
    • Growth of a downy layer of hair (called Lanugo) all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm
  • Warning Signs:
    • Dramatic weight loss
    • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting
    • Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g. no carbohydrates, etc.)
    • Frequent comments/anxiety about feeling fat or overweight despite weight loss
    • Denial of hunger
    • Development of food rituals (e.g. eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing, rearranging food on a plate)
    • Consistent excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food
    • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen–despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury–the need to  burn off  calories taken in
    • Withdrawal from friends and usual activities


Bulimia nervosa: Is consumption of food followed by vomiting, a person will consume large amounts of food then force themselves to vomit that food back up. People who suffer from Bulimia are afraid of weight gain and because of this they try to get rid of the food they have consumed.

  • Health Consequences:
    • Impacts the entire digestive system and can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions
    • Electrolyte imbalance can lead to irregular heartbeats and heart failure (Imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium and sodium from the body as a result of purging behaviors)
    • Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus
    • Tooth decay and staining (from stomach acids)
    • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation
  • Warning Signs:
    • Evidence of binge-eating:
      • Disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time
      • Large amount of empty wrappers and containers
    • Evidence of purging behaviors:
      • Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals
      • Signs and/or smells of vomiting
      • Presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics
    • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen (despite weather, fatigue, illness, etc)
    • Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area
    • Calluses on the back of the hands/knuckles from self-induced vomiting
    • Discoloration or stained teeth
    • Creation of complex lifestyle rituals to make time for binge-and-purge
    • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities


Binge eating: Binge eating is the opposite of the previous two eating disorders, it consists of a person consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time. During these binge periods the person feels a loss of control and is unable to stop eating.

  • Health Consequences:
    • Similar to those associated with clinical obesity
      • High blood pressure
      • High cholesterol
      • Heart disease
      • Diabetes
      • Gallbladder disease
  • Warning Signs:
    • Disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time
    • Large amount of empty wrappers and containers
    • Repeated offers to take out the family trash, so others won’t see empty food wrappers
    • Eating in the car, in the garage, or in the yard
    • Skipping public meals
    • Repeated diets that consistently fail
    • Rigid rules about foods that are “good” and those that are “bad”
Why Should You Care?
  • 81% of 10-year olds are afraid of being overweight
  • 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder
  • Every 62 minutes someone dies from an eating disorder
  • Every single day at least 23 people die from an eating disorder