Types of Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is more than just a diet, more than wanting to be fit and healthy, more than starting an exercise regime.

Eating disorders are moderate to severe mental illnesses characterized by disturbances in behaviour and thinking around food, eating, weight and/or shape. They comprise a wide spectrum of illness and are serious, potentially-life threatening, mental health problems; they are not a lifestyle choice. Eating disorders affect people of all ages, from all cultural backgrounds and may arise in response to a range of risk factors.

Eating disorders are often a way of dealing with underlying personal, emotional and psychological difficulties. They can begin at any age, but usually begin in adolescence. While people tend to think that they are rare, they are not – eating disorders affect 2-3% of the population. While the majority of sufferers are female, males can also suffer from eating disorders and body image related issues.

Even though everyone’s experience of an eating disorder is different, it can be helpful to know something about the broad diagnostic ‘categories’ that are used within the health system. Eating disorders are classified into four different types, depending on the kind of symptoms and frequency of behaviours.