Eating Disorders Home > Information on Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is a serious medical condition -- not just a problem with food. The most common types include:
In a person with an eating disorder, 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.
Although there is no known cause of eating disorders, certain factors may contribute to their development, such as:
  • Cultural ideals of extreme thinness.
  • Personal characteristics, such as feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and poor self-image.
  • Stressful events or life changes. Things like starting a new school or job, being teased, or experiencing traumatic events like rape can lead to the onset of eating disorders.
(For more detailed information, click Eating Disorder. This full-length article looks at specific symptoms, long-term health effects, and whether these problems are more likely to occur in boys or girls.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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