Six of The Most Common Types of Eating Disorders

After collating a series of national surveys, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) estimates that, in America alone, approximately 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that eating disorders are on the rise all around the world, the general public still has a lot of misconceptions when it comes to signs, symptoms, and types of eating disorders. To help dispel some of these misconceptions, this article will briefly outline six of the most common types of eating disorders.

1. Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is perhaps the most recognized type of eating disorder. According to NEDA, anorexia nervosa is more common among women and typically emerges during early adulthood or late adolescence.

People with anorexia nervosa may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Being abnormally underweight with respect to height and age weight criteria.
  • Having obsessive thoughts regarding thinness and being thinner.
  • Having an extreme fear of gaining weight.
  • Shunning meals with other people.
  • Basing self-esteem on distorted ideas of body image.

Medical experts recognize two distinct types of anorexia nervosa:

Binge eating and purging: This type of anorexia drives people to purge their food after a binge eating episode. The most common methods of post-binge purging are self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives.

Caloric restriction: People with this type of anorexia will consistently eat fewer calories than their body needs to maintain their weight. This type of anorexia is typically characterized by excessive fasting, constant dieting, and extreme over-exercising.

2. Bulimia Nervosa

Like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa typically develops during early adulthood or adolescence and is more common among women. People with bulimia nervosa experience intense binge eating episodes, where they consume a significant amount of food in a short amount of time. Afterward, a similarly intense feeling of shame and guilt usually compels the individual to purge the excess calories via self-induced vomiting or misuse of diuretics/laxatives. However, not every person with bulimia nervosa will choose to purge. In some cases, people with bulimia nervosa will attempt to burn off their binge eating through extreme fasting and/or over-exercising.

People with bulimia nervosa generally purge due to an inhibiting fear of gaining weight or going up a clothing size. The recurring impulse to binge is often accompanied by a sense of loss of control, something that can further amplify feelings of guilt, shame, and insecurity.

Although cyclical weight loss is a common outcome of bulimia nervosa, it is not always assured. Other side effects include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Tooth decay
  • Chronic dehydration
  • Dangerously elevated electrolyte imbalances

3. Binge Eating Disorder

Although it is similar to bulimia nervosa, people with binge eating disorder do not feel compelled to purge their food or excessively restrict their caloric intake after a binge eating episode.

Nevertheless, binge eating disorder remains a very serious eating condition. Because of their unhealthy compulsion to eat large quantities of (often unhealthy) food, people with a binge eating disorder have a much higher likelihood of becoming overweight or obese.

4. Pica

Pica is an eating disorder that causes people to crave non-food items. Pica is most common among pregnant women, people with intellectual disabilities, and children suffering from an iron or zinc deficiency. Typical pica non-food cravings include soil, soap, hair, cloth, or chalk. As a result, people with pica are at risk of everything from stomach irritation to poisoning to life-threatening digestive tract injuries.

5. Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

People with ARFID practice severe eating restrictions, often causing malnourishment, stunted growth, and weight loss. Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with ARFID are not unduly concerned by their weight or body image. Instead, people with ARFID often suffer from a general disinterest in eating or an acute sensory response to common foodstuffs.

6. Rumination Disorder

Rumination disorder is a condition that can occur among infants and children in response to illness or psychological distress. Children with rumination disorder will involuntarily vomit up partially digested food within 15 minutes to 30 minutes of eating. Upon regurgitation, the infant or child then re-chews and swallows the partially digested food.

Fortunately, rumination disorder in infants usually resolves itself without treatment. However, if rumination disorder develops in adults or older children, it typically points to an underlying psychological issue.

Sources: Eating Disorder Hope, National Eating Disorders, Medical News Today, Healthline
Photo: Pexels

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