Eating disorders are characterised by an unusual attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour towards food. A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health.
Eating disorders can happen to boys and girls of all backgrounds and cultures. They are often blamed on the social pressure to be thin, as young people in particular feel they should look a certain way. However, the causes are more complex and can be brought on by traumatic or stressful experiences as a way of coping with feelings or situations that are making you unhappy, angry, depressed or anxious.
What begins as trying to lose weight by dieting or skipping meals can turn into obsessively trying to control your weight. Unhappiness about one’s appearance or feeling the need to diet or exercise is common; an eating disorder is the extreme.
Eating disorders are serious but treatable conditions. Untreated eating disorders can lead to severe medical complications including kidney damage, liver damage, infertility and heart failure. Anorexia has the highest morality rate of any psychiatric disorder.