Types of Eating Disorders
The eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) category is for eating disorders that do not meet the criteria for any specific, formally identified eating disorder. In EDNOS, individuals engage in some form of abnormal eating but do not exhibit the specific symptoms required to diagnose an eating disorder. For instance, an individual with EDNOS may meet all the criteria of anorexia nervosa but manage to maintain normal weight, while someone else may engage in purging behavior with less frequency or intensity than a person who has been diagnosed with bulimia.
Far more common and widespread than defined eating disorders are atypical eating disorders, or disordered eating. Disordered eating refers to troublesome eating behaviors, such as restrictive dieting, bingeing, or purging, which occur less frequently or are less severe than those required to meet the full criteria for the diagnosis of an eating disorder.
Disordered eating can be changes in eating patterns that occur in relation to a stressful event, an illness, personal appearance, or in preparation for athletic competition. The 1997 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Study found that over 4 percent of students nationwide had taken laxatives, diet pills, or had vomited -- either to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight.
While disordered eating can lead to weight loss or weight gain and to certain nutritional problems, it rarely requires in-depth professional attention. On the other hand, disordered eating may develop into an eating disorder. If disordered eating becomes sustained, distressing, or begins to interfere with everyday activities, it may require professional evaluation.