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Eating disorders may be caused by several factors. These include genetics, biological, psychological, and social factors. Eating disorders generally develop during adolescence or young adulthood and tend to affect more women than men. But that does not mean men cannot be affected.


People with anorexia generally view themselves as overweight, even if they’re dangerously underweight. They tend to constantly monitor their weight, avoid eating certain types of foods, and severely restrict their calories.

Common symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:

  • being considerably underweight compared with people of similar age and height

  • very restricted eating patterns

  • an intense fear of gaining weight or persistent behaviors to avoid gaining weight, despite being underweight

  • a relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight

  • a heavy influence of body weight or perceived body shape on self-esteem

  • a distorted body image, including denial of being seriously underweight


People with bulimia may secretly binge — eating large amounts of food with a loss of control over the eating — and then purge, trying to get rid of the extra calories in an unhealthy way.

Bulimia signs and symptoms may include:

  • Being preoccupied with your body shape and weight

  • Living in fear of gaining weight

  • Repeated episodes of eating abnormally large amounts of food in one sitting

  • Feeling a loss of control during bingeing — like you can't stop eating or can't control what you eat

  • Forcing yourself to vomit or exercising too much to keep from gaining weight after bingeing

  • Using laxatives, diuretics or enemas after eating when they're not needed

  • Fasting, restricting calories or avoiding certain foods between binges

  • Using dietary supplements or herbal products excessively for weight loss


Common symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • Eating large amounts of foods rapidly, in secret and until uncomfortably full, despite not feeling hungry

  • Feeling a lack of control during episodes of binge eating

  • Feelings of distress, such as shame, disgust, or guilt, when thinking about the binge eating behavior

  • No use of purging behaviors, such as calorie restriction, vomiting, excessive exercise, or laxative or diuretic use, to compensate for the binging

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