Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder. One in seven women will experience an eating disorder over their lifetime. Peak onset is in adolescence and young adulthood, but eating disorders can develop before and after this too. They affect boys and girls, men and women, young and old, rich and poor, and people of all cultures.
There are four main categories of eating disorder: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and “other specified feeding or eating disorder” (OSFED). OSFED is no less serious than the other categories and just means that symptoms don’t exactly match those for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder.
OSFED includes atypical anorexia nervosa, atypical bulimia nervosa, purging disorder and night eating syndrome. In older diagnostic systems, the term “eating disorder not otherwise specified” (EDNOS) was used instead of OSFED.
It is very common for people to move between different eating disorder diagnoses over time.
All eating disorders are serious. There are effective treatments for all disorders.
Eating disorders aren’t all about food. People with eating disorders often feel a lot of pain, sadness and worry. The eating disorder can be a way to cope.
‘Disordered eating’ can include limiting food intake, binge eating (eating a very large amount of food at once and feeling out of control of eating) and/or purging (making yourself sick or misusing laxatives). People may also exercise a lot, or exercise in rigid ways.