What are the types of eating disorders?

There are four official eating disorder diagnoses, which are the following:
  • anorexia nervosa: a preoccupation with thinness and dieting that leads to excessive weight loss
  • bulimia nervosa: secret and regular binge eating of large quantities of food, followed by trying to get rid of the excess calories
  • binge eating disorder (BED): binge eating similar to bulimia, but not followed by attempting to get rid of the calories
  • eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS): a pattern of eating disorder symptoms that do not fit the diagnoses for the other three disorders
There are two main eating disorders: anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Each has a distinct set of warning signs. Both disorders stress the body and deny it the necessary nutrients.
  • Anorexia: An eating disorder in which people refrain from eating in order to stay thin. Their perception of their body is often out of tune with reality. Even very thin women and men sometimes perceive themselves as being overweight.
  • Bulimia: An eating disorder in which people will often eat normal or even excessive amounts of food and then purge the food by inducing vomiting or taking laxatives. Over time, bulimia can cause problems with the esophagus, as well as many dental problems.
Michele Borba
The three most common types of eating disorders are:
  • Anorexia Nervosa: The child is terrified of weight gain or being fat and severely restricts calories
  • Bulimia Nervosa: The child binges on large quantities of food followed by trying to get rid of those calories in unhealthy ways such as vomiting, using laxatives, fasting, or compulsive exercising
  • Binge Eating Disorder: This disorder is similar to bulimia but there is no purging (vomiting or using laxatives)
The earlier treatment begins the greater the likelihood that your child will recover or at least make significant progress. That alone is ground to make this change. Signs of an eating disorder are often difficult to detect in the early stages, but the medical profession urges you to watch closer and tune into your child.
Ximena Jimenez
Nutrition & Dietetics
The most common types of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, characterized by extreme thinness and intense fear of gaining weight. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurrent and frequent episodes of eating very large amounts of food, usually followed by forced vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics, excessive exercise or a combination of these. With Binge eating disorder, the person eats huge quantities of food but does not purge. They are usually overweight or obese.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Eating disorders come in more forms than just anorexia or bulimia. In this video, watch as I talk to guests about their addictions to eating things like chalk and cigarette ash.
Types of eating disorders include:
  • Anorexia -- typically involves an extreme fear of gaining weight or a dread of becoming fat. Even though these individuals may be very thin or even extremely underweight, they see themselves as "fat." They may attempt to reach or maintain what they think is their perfect body weight by literally starving themselves. They may also exercise excessively. Others may eat excessive amounts of food in one sitting and then attempt to get rid of the food and calories from their bodies by forcing themselves to "throw up" or by the misuse of laxatives or enemas.
  • Bulimia -- also includes the fears of being overweight. But it also includes hidden periods of overeating (binge eating) which may occur several times a week or even several times a day. While overeating, individuals may feel completely out of control. They may gulp down thousands of calories often high in carbohydrates and fat -- in amounts of food that would be greater than what an average person would eat at one sitting. After they overeat, the individuals try to "undo" the fact that they ate too much as quickly as possible by forcing themselves to "throw up" or by the misuse of laxatives or enemas. This is often referred to as "bingeing and purging."
  • Binge eating or compulsive overeating -- may affect almost as many men as women. In the past, these individuals were sometimes described as "food addicts." They overeat (binge eat) as noted in bulimia above, but do not regularly try to get rid of the food immediately by throwing up or by misusing laxatives or enemas. Feelings of guilt may make it easier for the person to overeat again.
There are three main types of eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating:
  • Anorexia involves a severe restriction of calories; there may be a fear of weight gain and strict "rules" about eating.
  • Bulimia may involve these same fears and restrictions, but also involves binging and purging. This involves vomiting, exercise or use of laxatives.
  • People with binge eating disorder eat large amounts of food often without attention to hunger or fullness.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.