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Eating Disorders – Types, Symptoms, and Medical Complications


Though Eating disorders involves the term ‘eating’ it has more to do with psychology. Eating disorders are more prevalent in women (mostly young) than men according to statistics.

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How to define it? Eating disorders are a range of psychological disorders, characteristics of which involve unhealthy eating/feeding patterns and habits. Some common symptoms of eating disorders are food restriction, binge eating, starvation, over-exercising, etc. Eating disorders not only affects adults but also teenagers.


Here are 5 types of eating disorders


Anorexia Nervosa

This is the most common type of eating disorder (prevalent in adolescent girls). People with anorexia tend to feel the need to lose weight even if they are already underweight.


Symptoms– Starvation, fear of eating, and constantly thinking about ways to lose weight are some of the characteristics of this eating disorder.

Medical Complications– People experiencing anorexia may suffer frequent vomiting, low energy levels, infertility, brittle hair and nails, thinning of bones etc


Bulimia nervosa

Another life-threatening eating disorder is characterized by a cycle of eating unusually large amounts of food followed by compensating through self-induced vomiting, enemas, fasting, excessive exercise, etc.


Symptoms include a cycle of binge eating and purging, a sense of loss of control over food, fear of gaining weight.


Medical Complications– People experiencing bulimia may suffer electrolyte imbalance, sore throat, tooth decay, acid reflux, dehydration, hormonal imbalances, etc


Binge eating disorder

This type of eating disorder is similar to bulimia nervosa without attempting to compensate through purging behaviour.


Symptoms– eating large amounts of food until uncomfortably full, eating food even when the person is not f

eeling hungry, and the urge to eat alone due to the guilt or disgust of the amount of the food they are having.


Medical Complications– people with binge eating disorders experience obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart stroke.


Avoidant or Restrictive Food Eating Disorder

This type of eating disorder generally develops during infancy/childhood and can persist into adolescence. The characteristics of this eating disorder are disturbed eating/feeding patterns that may result in significant weight loss or other medical issues.


Symptoms– lack of interest in eating because of the taste, colour, smell or texture of food, not being able to meet nutritional requirements, dependence on tube feeding or supplements, choosy, selective or restrictive behavior.


Medical complications– similar to those of anorexia nervosa in addition to faltering growth and weight loss.


Other eating disorders


● Night eating syndrome

The recurrent cycle of the night eating in excessive amounts even after waking up in the middle of the night. Additionally, having lesser calories during the day can also lead to this disorder.



● Purging disorder

Some characteristics of purging behaviors are diuretics, self-induced vomiting, over-exercising in order to maintain weight with avoidance of binge eating.


● Unspecified eating or feeding disorder

Any eating disorder that doesn’t come under the above-specified category comes under this type of eating disorder. e.g. orthorexia in which a person’s obsession of eating healthy starts disrupting their daily life. They usually focus on avoiding a food group that they think is unhealthy leading to malnutrition, emotional distress etc.

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The categories explained above are to make people aware of the causes and medical complications related to eating disorders. All things considered, if you have any such eating disorder or you know someone suffering/dealing with any above-mentioned disorder, seek help from a professional that specialises in eating disorders.