What Is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder is diagnosed when unhealthy eating habits such as food restriction, binging and purging are sustained and severe enough to impair a person’s physical and mental health. The most common eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia nervosa: Anorexia is characterized by severe food restriction, a dangerously low body weight, extreme exercise and a distorted body image.
  • Bulimia nervosa: Bulimia is characterized by out-of-control eating offset by purging, fasting or extreme exercise designed to maintain weight.
  • Binge eating disorder: Someone with binge eating disorder regularly consumes unusually large amounts of food in short periods of time, often in secret, and feels out of control.