Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour.
A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food, with damaging results to their health.
Types of eating disorders
Eating disorders include a range of conditions that can affect someone physically, psychologically and socially. The most common eating disorders are:
- anorexia nervosa - when someone tries to keep their weight as low as possible, for example by starving themselves or exercising excessively
- bulimia - when someone tries to control their weight by binge eating and then deliberately being sick or using laxatives (medication to help empty their bowels)
- binge eating - when someone feels compelled to overeat
- Eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS)
Although eating disorders tend to be more common in certain age groups, it is not uncommon for eating disorders to affect people of any age.
If you are concerned about yourself, your child or someone you care for, you should contact your doctor
More information and advice
- NHS Choices
- Royal College of Psychiatrists
- National Centre for Eating Disorders
- Somerset Partnership Eating Disorders Service