Eating Disorders


The eating disorder that involves self-starvation and extreme weight loss is anorexia. Ninety to 95 percent of people with anorexia are female. Anorexia has a high death rate and between five and 20 percent of anorexia sufferers will die.

What are the symptoms and signs of anorexia?

  • Loss of menstrual periods in females
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Obsession with weight, food, calories, etc
  • Feeling fat even though underweight
  • Denial of hunger
  • Avoiding mealtimes
  • Strict exercise routines
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities

What are the health effects of anorexia?

  • Risk of heart failure – heart rate and blood pressure decreases significantly
  • Osteoporosis – reduction of bone density
  • Muscle weakness
  • Kidney failure – extreme dehydration
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue and fainting
  • Death


Bulimia usually evolves from anorexia. Bulimia consists of binging and then vomiting to “undo” the results of binge eating. Eighty percent of people with bulimia are female. Sometimes people with bulimia are underweight but sometimes they seem to be an average weight.

What are the signs and symptoms of bulimia?

  • Vomiting, laxative abuse, fasting, excessive exercise
  • Evidence of binge eating
  • Frequently going to the bathroom after eating
  • Discoloration of the teeth
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities

What are the health effects of bulimia?

  • Digestive system damage
  • Severe dehydration
  • Esophagus damage
  • Gastric rupture
  • Irregular bowel movements and constipation – from the laxative abuse
  • Tooth decay
  • Irregular heartbeats and heart failure
  • Death

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge Eating Disorder consists of just binge eating. Unlike bulimia, there is no purging aspect. About one to five percent of people have BED. Sixty percent of these people are women, and the other 40 percent are men. Many people with BED also have depression.

What are the signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder?

  • Eating large amounts of food in a short period of time
  • Feeling guilty or embarrassed by the binge eating
  • Eating secretly
  • Eating when not hungry

What are the health effects of binge eating?

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes

(references: National Eating Disorders Association and American Psychiatric Association)