Multiple: Eating Disorders

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Multiple: Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a group of mental disorders related to abnormal eating patterns. Patients diagnosed with eating disorders feel a need to lose weight, sometimes cutting back on eating to the point of malnutrition and starvation. They may also exercise for hours or force themselves to vomit in order to keep their weight as low as possible. Some people with eating disorders alternate between eating as little food as possible and episodes of binging. Binging refers to eating large quantities of food in a brief period of time and being unable to control the eating. This is often followed by vomiting.

Eating disorders are considered mental disorders because they involve distortions of reality. Specifically, people with eating disorders have a distorted image of what their bodies really look like. They are also often perfectionists—unwilling to accept their limitations and often feeling powerless. Controlling food intake becomes a way of trying to control all aspects of their lives.

Eating disorders were extremely rare until the 1970s. Many doctors think that society's emphasis on physical attractiveness, particularly on thinness as essential to beauty, is a major reason for the rapid spread of eating disorders in developed countries over the last forty years. Although the majority of patients with eating disorders are women, between 10 and 12 percent are male.

SEE ALSO Anorexia; Bulimia

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Multiple: Eating Disorders

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