Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour. These are complex conditions that can affect someone emotionally, physically and socially. They are serious mental illnesses and include anorexia, binge-eating disorder and bulimia.
Anorexia nervosa causes a person to feel overweight even though they may be very underweight. The desire to lose weight can lead to them skipping meals, starving themselves and/ or exercising excessively.
Bulimia can cause a person to feel they have lost control of their relationship to food. In this disorder people can fall into a cycle of excessive eating (binge-eating) followed by forced self-induced vomiting (purging) and/ or over exercising and using laxatives.
Binge-Eating disorder is where people experience a loss of control and overeat regularly. They may rely on food for emotional support or use it to mask difficult feelings.
While young women are more commonly affected by eating disorders, anyone can develop an eating disorder regardless of age or gender. There is no single reason why a person will develops an eating disorder. There could be a range of factors that have had an influence including social, genetic, environmental, psychological and biological. Although serious, eating disorders are treatable many people can make a full recovery.