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Eating Disorders

There are three main types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.

Anorexia nervosa is diagnosed when a person weighs at least 15 percent less than the normal weight for their height. People with anorexia nervosa lose a realistic sense of how they look.

People with bulimia nervosa, commonly called bulimia, seek to control their weight by forcing themselves to throw up after they eat. People with this condition may not be underweight.

People with binge eating disorder will eat very large quantities of food and feel out of control while they do it. Unlike people with bulimia, they do not purge the food by vomiting or laxatives.

Help for a friend or family member

Talk to your doctor if you suspect that someone you love may have an eating disorder. In our culture, being thin can seem like a good thing. But eating disorders are dangerous. When an obsession with weight or food takes over, it can hurt physical health and self-image and even be life threatening.

Do you suspect that your child has an eating disorder, but he or she denies that anything is wrong? Book an appointment with your pediatrician or family doctor. It can be easier for your child to talk to someone outside the family. A doctor can decide if there are any signs of the serious health problems related to an eating disorder.

Some things you can do:

  • Look at your own attitudes about food, weight and body image. It can help to let your child know the way you are affected by body-image pressures.
  • Avoid negative communication, threats or put-downs. Eating disorders often are a symptom of emotional stress.
  • Promote your child’s self-esteem. Encourage participation in school, sports and social activities.
  • Be a role model for healthy eating. Encourage healthy choices.

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