A look at the main eating disorders

A look at the main eating disorders

Eating disorders

The phrase ‘eating disorders’ is commonly used to refer to a wide range of medical conditions characterized by improper eating habits and related illnesses.  Thus, a person suffering from an eating disorder is likely to display symptoms such as overeating, an over obsession with some types of foods and chronic dieting. Additional symptoms include having weird eating patterns such as hiding when eating, weight fluctuations, avoiding social functions and depression.

Usually, eating disorders come about due to mental stresses such as worrying about body weight and concerns about body shape.  Genetics also plays a role in eating disorders. In that regard, research indicates that some eating disorders are hereditary, and as such, it can be passed on from one generation to the next. Some personality types have been closely affiliated with a high prevalence of eating disorders. Three personalities, in particular, that are considered high-risk factors for developing an eating disorder are impulsivity, perfectionism, and neurotic-ism personalities.

Eating disorders are detrimental and in extreme cases; they can actually lead to the death of a patient. What is more, eating disorders can lead to a host of other health problems such as heart attacks, obesity, and insomnia. Eating disorders are no longer just a problem that affects a small demographic in the United States, they are now common and everyone needs to be informed. In this brief but nonetheless detailed article, we will be looking at each eating disorder in detail to get a better understanding of what it entails.

Common eating disorders

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is one of the most common eating disorders today.  This condition is prevalent among adolescents and young women. People suffering from this eating disorder will usually have abnormally low weight and an obsession to remain thin. This often induces restrictive eating habits in the patient that eventually grow to become an eating disorder. Researchers have noted two types of Anorexia Nervosa termed as Binge and Restrictive. The classification is based on the behavior of patients in reaction to the fear of gaining weight and the compulsive obsession with remaining thin. Most patients with the Binge type of Anorexia Nervosa will engage in a lot of physical activities, abuse laxatives and induce vomits; all in a bid to shed off weight so as to remain thin. On other hand, patients suffering from the Restrictive type of Anorexia Nervosa will often shy away from eating some foods or eating altogether. Thus, they face the risk of starvation.


Several factors can lead to Anorexia Nervosa. These factors can be grouped into three categories namely hereditary, biological and environmental factors. Hereditary factors have to do with genetics, where some individuals are more likely to have the eating disorders as compared to others largely because of their family lineage. Biological factors, on the other hand, touch on physiological aspects such as hormonal imbalances, particularly in women. Such imbalances if not well checked may lead to one acquiring this devastating -eating disorder. Lastly, environmental factors touch on culture, peer pressures and other social factors that may lead to unhealthy eating behaviors which eventually escalate to becoming eating disorders.

Bulima Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is the second most common eating disorder after Aneroxia Nervosa. This type of eating disorder has the patient ingesting large amounts of food in a short time. This is followed by a strong urge to shed of the perceived weight that patients assume they may have gained from eating a large amount of food. Consequently, patients will engage in acts aimed at purging the food from the body such as using diuretics, inducing vomits and excessive exercising.

Bulimia Nervosa is further categorized into two; the purging type and non-purging type.  The former is more common than the latter. This type of eating disorder will have the patient engaging in uncouth methods of removing ingested food from the body such as the use self-induced enema. As for the non-purging type of Bulima Nervosa, the patient typically attempts to shed off weight by fasting or exercising excessively. The exact cause of this eating disorder remains unknown. However, scientists have been able to identify some of the common factors that seem to lead to Bulima Nervosa. These include highly stressful situations in life such as transitioning into motherhood or losing a loved; a history of abuse in the patient; low self-esteem and a negative body image.

Binge eating disorder

This is another common eating disorder. The condition will have a patient eating large amounts of food in every meal coupled with a feeling of inability to control how much they eat and sometimes even what they eat. This often leaves the patient stressed and in some cases depressed. Typically, this condition begins at the adolescent stage of social development and proceeds all the way into adulthood. The main distinction between this eating disorder and the other two is the fact that for binge eating disorder, patients hardly try to remove the huge quantities of ingested food from their bodies. What is more, the patients do not try to shed of the huge weight associated with the massive consumption of food. Some of the common symptoms of this eating disorder include an inability to stop eating, eating abnormally large quantities of food, hiding food for later consumption and taking several meals throughout the day.

Binge eating is caused by a wide range of factors which are often classified into three groups; these are social, psychological and biological factors.  Social factors come about when patients are exposed to peer pressure, criticisms and many stressful situations. The patients then resort to excessive eating to calm their nerves.  Psychological factors, on the other hand, have to do with mental aspects of a patient such as overall mental health, depression and self-esteem. Here, poor mental health, depression and a low self-esteem are known to lead to binge eating disorder. Lastly, about biological factors, scientists have established that some deformities in the body such a malfunctioning hypothalamus can cause the disorder. Moreover, hormonal imbalances have also been established to lead to the disease. Lastly, just like the other eating disorders, binge eating too has a strong genetic link.