National Eating Disorders Association

These are complex disorders. They require a complex approach.

Eating disorders rarely occur in a vacuum, but instead often arise with other mental or physical health issues.  In addition, several groups are at higher risk for developing eating disorders.  Therefore, topics on this page range from eating disorders among athletes to atypical eating disorders to trauma. To fully understand eating disorders it is important to examine other issues contributing to a person’s problematic attitudes toward food and weight.

To explore special issues in the field of eating disorders as they relate to gender, race, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, gender identity, age and size, please visit the Diversity Issues section.

Atypical Eating Behaviors

Orthorexia is a term coined by Steven Bratman, MD in 1996. He began to use it with his patients who were overly health-obsessed. It was not meant as a diagnosis; instead, Dr. Bratman used the term to help his patients entertain the possibility that this “healthy” eating may not be as beneficial as they presumed. Over time, however, he came to understand that the term identifies a genuine eating problem.” It is not an officially recognized disorder, but is similar to other eating disorders –  those with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa obsess about calories and weight while orthorexics obsess about healthy eating (not about being ‘thin’ and losing weight). Learn more.

Not a recognized medical diagnosis, diabulimia refers to the condition in which an individual with an eating disorder, who also has diabetes, manipulates insulin levels to manage weight. It carries serious health consequences. Learn more.

Athletes and Eating Disorders

In a study of Division 1 NCAA athletes, over one-third of female athletes reported attitudes and symptoms placing them at risk for anorexia nervosa. Though most athletes with eating disorders are female, male athletes are also at risk — especially those competing in sports that tend to place an emphasis on the athlete’s diet, appearance, size, and weight requirements. Learn more.

Pregnancy and Motherhood

Pregnancy and Eating Disorders
Professionals recommend that women with eating disorders do their best to resolve the eating disorder related weight and behavior problems before they attempt to get pregnant. Learn more.

Healthy Body Image Tips for Pregnant Women and New Mothers
Whether or not you have ever struggled with an eating disorder, these tips will help you maintain positive body image and focus on health during your pregnancy. Learn more.

Trauma and Eating Disorders

Traumatic events are events that cause psychological, physical and/or emotional pain or harm. Traumatic events, especially those involving violence between people, have been found to be significant risk factors for the development of a variety of psychiatric disorders, including eating disorders—particularly those involving bulimic symptoms, such as binge eating and purging. Learn more.

Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders

Substance abuse is the most common co-occurring condition in people with eating disorders. Overcoming both an eating disorder and substance abuse problems takes special understanding of the development and persistence of these disorders, and an approach to treatment that tackles both of the issues. Learn more.