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Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are conditions that cause a person to have unhealthy thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to food and body image.

Some people with eating disorders severely restrict their food intake (anorexia nervosa), while others eat excessively (binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating). They may also vomit, take laxatives, or exercise excessively to try to prevent weight gain after binge eating (bulimia nervosa).

The cause of eating disorders is not clear, but experts believe that it is related to a number of physical, psychological, cultural, and social factors. Eating disorders are most common in teenage girls and young women, but they can occur at any age and in both sexes.

People who have eating disorders may develop health problems, such as dehydration and malnutrition. Eating disorders also increase a person’s risk of other health problems related to a poor diet. These other health problems can include menstrual period changes, thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) and, in severe cases, heart and other organ problems.

Eating disorders are treated primarily with counseling. Sometimes medicines also are used.

Current as of: December 7, 2017

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine & W. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC – Psychiatry

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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