Women's Health and Equality Queensland


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Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complex mental health issue that is characterised by disordered eating behaviours, distorted beliefs, and extreme concerns about food, eating and body size, shape, or weight.

The causes of eating disorders are also complex, however it is important to remember that they are not a phase, a lifestyle choice, or about vanity. Some researchers believe that a combination of genetic and biological factors, personality traits, and experiences affect the likelihood that someone will develop an eating disorder. There are also many social and cultural factors that contribute, such as pressure from the media, communities, family, or peers to look and eat a certain way.

Eating disorders might look like eating extremely small amounts of food or eating in an uncontrolled way. You might also be worried about food, body weight, and appearance. The most common eating disorders are Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. With treatment, most people with an eating disorder make a good recovery.

Anorexia Nervosa

People with anorexia nervosa usually set themselves the goal of losing weight and lose so much that they become very underweight and become unwell. Most are also overly concerned or distressed about their body shape and weight.

Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder

People with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder regularly binge-eat (eat an excessive amount of food in an uncontrolled way). People with bulimia nervosa compensate their binge eating by repeatedly trying to control their weight in extreme ways such as purging (vomiting or using laxatives) or exercising excessively. People with binge eating disorder do not display these weight control behaviours regularly.

Treatment for eating disorders involves healthy eating together with medical care and psychological treatment. Some people might also be prescribed medications. If you, or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder, it’s important to reach out, speak with your doctor, or visit our resources to help.

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