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What Are Eating Disorders?

People may be confused as to exactly what eating disorders are and what they are not. This is not just a problem with food. These conditions are serious medical problems often stemming from psychological problems. What's more, an eating disorder can lead to more serious medical conditions, including death.

What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are serious medical problems. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are among the different types.
 
These conditions frequently develop during adolescence or early adulthood, but can occur during childhood or later in adulthood. Females are more likely than males to develop an eating disorder.
 
Only an estimated 5 percent to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia, and an estimated 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorder, are male.
 
Eating disorders are more than just a problem with food. Food is used to feel in control of other feelings that may seem overwhelming. For example, starving themselves is a way for people with anorexia to feel more in control of their lives and to ease tension, anger, and anxiety. Purging and other behaviors to prevent weight gain are ways for people with bulimia to feel more in control of their lives and to ease stress and anxiety.
 

What Are the Causes?

While there is no single known cause of eating disorders, several things may contribute to their development:
 
  • Culture
  • Personal characteristics
  • Other emotional disorders
  • Stressful events or life changes
  • Biology
  • Families.
 
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