What are eating disorders?

Also known as: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, pica, rumination disorder, “Other/Unspecified feeding or Eating Disorder”.

The term “Eating disorder” refers to a variety of persistent and different eating or eating related behaviors that result in a change in the way a child/adolescent/young adult consumes or absorbs food and which significantly causes poorer physical and psychosocial functioning. They relate to attitudes about foods, eating, weight and body image and can overlap in presentation (e.g. alternate between anorexia and bulimia). They can involve either eating too much, not eating enough or eating the wrong things. They can have serious health consequence in many instances.
 

What causes eating disorders? 

Eating disorders are influenced by a variety of complex factors. They may have a genetic component, as they seem to run in families. Certain social, behavioral and psychological factors can also lead teens to develop eating disorders. Other psychiatric problems (anxiety, depression and substance abuse) are often seen in teens with eating disorders
 

What are the symptoms of eating disorders?

 Symptoms of eating disorders vary by type. With anorexia nervosa, for example, people don’t eat enough to stay healthy and perceive themselves as overweight even when they are becoming dangerously skinny. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by binge eating too much, followed by purging the food, often through vomiting or laxative use.
 

What are eating disorder care options?

 A comprehensive treatment program usually requires a team approach which includes Pediatric specialists delivering family-centered and individual behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, nutritional counseling and medications as needed. 

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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