What Are Eating Disorders? PDF Print E-mail

Eating disorders are characterized by disturbed eating behaviors and are generally accompanied by a preoccupation with food and body image or shape. They include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating or compulsive overeating.

Anorexia is characterized by self-starvation and extreme weight loss.

Symptoms include:

  • weight 15% or more below healthy weight for age and height
  • intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat
  • distorted body image
  • in females, loss of menstrual periods

Bulimia is characterized by periods of binge eating followed by purging.

Symptoms include:

  • recurrent episodes of bingeing and purging
  • purging by self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives, enemas or other medications, fasting or excessive dieting
  • sense of being out of control of eating during binge
  • frequent dieting.


Binge Eating Disorder, Compulsive Overeating or Emotional Eating is characterized by periods of binge eating or continuous overeating often followed by periods of dieting or fasting.

Symptoms include:

  • recurrent episodes of binge eating or excessive eating when not physiologically hungry
  • sense of being unable to control eating
  • periods of dieting or fasting