Types of Eating Disorders
Individuals suffering from bulimia nervosa follow a routine of secretive, uncontrolled, or binge eating (ingesting an abnormally large amount of food within a set period of time), followed by behaviors to rid the body of food consumed. This includes self-induced vomiting and the misuse of laxatives, diet pills, diuretics (water pills), excessive exercise, or fasting.
This type of eating disorder afflicts approximately 1 percent to 3 percent of adolescents in the United States, with the illness usually beginning in late adolescence or early adult life.
As with anorexia nervosa, those with bulimia are overly concerned with food, body weight, and shape. Because many individuals with bulimia "binge and purge" in secret and maintain normal or above normal body weight, they can often hide the disorder from others for years. Binges can range from once or twice a week to several times a day, and can be triggered by a variety of emotions, such as depression, boredom, or anger. The illness may be constant or occasional, with periods of remission alternating with recurrences of binge eating.
Individuals with this kind of eating disorder are often characterized as having a hard time dealing with and controlling impulses, stress, and anxieties. Bulimia nervosa can and often does occur independently of anorexia nervosa, although half of all people with anorexia develop bulimia.
Binge-eating disorder (BED) is the newest clinically recognized type of eating disorder. BED is primarily identified by repeated episodes of uncontrolled eating. The overeating, or bingeing, does not typically stop until the person is uncomfortably full. Unlike anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, however, BED is not associated with inappropriate behaviors, such as vomiting or excessive exercise to rid the body of extra food.
This type of eating disorder usually begins in late adolescence or in the early 20s, often coming soon after significant weight loss from dieting.
Some researchers believe that BED is the most common eating disorder, affecting 15 percent to 50 percent of participants in weight control programs. In these programs, women are more likely to have BED than males. Current findings suggest that BED affects 0.7 percent to 4 percent of the general population.
To the average person, BED can be difficult to distinguish from other causes of obesity. However, the overeating in individuals with this type of eating disorder is often accompanied by feeling out of control and followed by feelings of depression, guilt, or disgust.