Eating Disorders

The term eating disorder refers to a group of disorders where an eating behavior endangers a person’s physical and psychosocial health. Eating disorders are serious mental health problems and can be life-threatening. 

Anorexia Nervosa 

An eating disorder where a person refuses to maintain a weight at or above the normal range for his or her age and height. People with anorexia nervosa may also binge and purge.  

Bulimia Nervosa

Cycles of overeating followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain.  May include vomiting, use of laxatives, diuretics or too much exercise.  

Binge Eating Disorder

Recurring episodes of eating much more food in a short period of time than most people would eat, with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control. Someone with binge eating disorder may eat too quickly, even when he or she is not hungry. The person may have feelings of guilt, embarrassment, or disgust and may binge eat alone to hide the behavior. This disorder is linked with marked distress and occurs, on average, at least once a week over three months.

Eating Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified)

A term used for people who have disordered eating behaviors, are unhappy  with their body weight or shape and may  exhibit harmful weight-control behaviors that do not meet full criteria for one of the more severe eating disorders above.

  • About 5-10 million females and 1 million males in the United States struggle with an eating disorder.
  • Anorexia nervosa is most common in young teens.
  • Bulimia nervosa is most common in older adolescents and young adults.
  • Binge-eating disorder is usually not diagnosed until middle adulthood.
  • The death rate among patients with anorexia and bulimia is 10-20 percent.
  • Recovery rates are best for people who are diagnosed during adolescence.
  • Adults who have symptoms for more than three years are most difficult to treat.

Risk factors for developing an eating disorder include: 

  • A history of dieting
  • Childhood preoccupation with thinness
  • Involvement in sports or other activities in which thinness is emphasized

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have an eating disorder, do not hesitate to have a professional evaluate the situation. Call your primary care medical provider or a mental health provider today.

The Teen Health Center at Cincinnati Children’s has a comprehensive eating disorder treatment program for males and females under the age of 21.

Call 513-636-4681 to schedule an evaluation.


Last Updated 08/2013