Eating disorders

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


How to Spot an Eating Disorder in Your Teen

What is an Eating Disorder?

What is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder is a serious health condition where worries and about weight and body image are taken to an extreme — often causing serious long-term physical and mental damage. There are four main types of eating disorders:

  • Anorexia nervosa, which involves self-starvation and excessive weight loss accompanied by an extremely distorted perception about one’s body.
  • Bulimia, which is characterized by a cycle of overeating followed by feelings of guilt that prompt purging. Those with bulimia use methods such as self-induced vomiting and the use of laxatives and diuretics to prevent weight gain.
  • Binge eating disorder, in which an individual regularly and frequently eats unusually large quantities of food.
  • Eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS), in which a person is struggling with eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or feelings, but doesn't have all of the symptoms associated with the other three types. 
By Carolyn Dickey. Updated July 8, 2015. Published May 21, 2013. Carolyn is a second-year graduate student studying health and medical journalism at the University of Georgia.
Reviewed by Shira Goldenholz, MD, MPH on July 8, 2015