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Get the Facts on Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are conditions in which you obsess over food and weight. They can lead to serious health problems, even death in some cases.

You have probably heard a lot about eating disorders. Stories about celebrities and the dangers of thinspiration blogs are in the news often. But, you may have had trouble making sense of it all. Below you will find the top things you need to know about eating disorders.

There are different types of eating disorders

The three most common eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia nervosa – You are obsessed with being thin and starve yourself to lose weight.
  • Bulimia nervosa – You often eat a large amount of food in a short period of time and then throw up or work out excessively to get rid of the calories.
  • Binge eating disorder – You eat a large amount of food (binge). But unlike with bulimia nervosa, you would not throw up or work out afterwards.

People of all ages and sexes have eating disorders

Despite popular belief, teen girls and young women are not the only ones who have eating disorders. Girls, boys, men and women of all ages have eating disorders. Though, females are more likely than males to have an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices

Eating disorders are serious medical/psychiatric illnesses that need to be treated. They are not phases or ways to get attention. If ignored, symptoms can become life-threatening.

Biological, mental and social factors can all lead to eating disorders

We still do not know what exactly causes eating disorders. But, we do know of some the broad factors that can lead to eating disorders. Studies show that genetics may play a role. Also, people with eating disorders often have a history of low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and troubled relationships. Culture may also play a role. Eating disorders are more widespread in Western nations where there is a pressure to be thin and diet.

People with eating disorders need help and support

If you know someone who you believe has an eating disorder, reach out to him or her and express your concern in a loving and caring way. Encourage your loved one to go see a health provider so that he/she can be diagnosed and treated. While recovery may be hard, it is possible. If his/her condition is immediately life threatening please call 911.

Sources: National Institute of Mental Health, National Eating Disorders Association, Mayo Clinic

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