Eating Disorders

Eating disorders involve abnormal eating or dieting behaviors. These can include starving or eating huge amounts of food (binge eating). People with eating disorders think too much about food, eating, body shape or weight. They may be normal weight, overweight, or underweight. In this section, we list several different eating disorders. If you're not sure which one you are looking for, read the brief description of each one. Where possible, we provide a link to other websites that have more information about each disorder. We also briefly discuss psychological treatments that have been evaluated by scientists. Although some medications are also helpful for these disorders, we do not cover them. Eating disorders can cause serious medical problems. Therefore, it is important to see a physician or mental health professional who is a specialist in eating disorders to get an accurate diagnosis and discuss treatment. Be sure to work together to decide treatment goals and how to measure progress. Feel free to print this information and take it with you when you meet with your doctor or therapist.

This site covers the following topics:


Binge Eating Disorder

Many people feel that they sometimes eat more than they should. Binge eating disorder involves frequently eating an abnormally large amount of food. During a binge, there is a feeling of being unable to control the eating. The person often feels ashamed, disgusted, depressed, or guilty after a binge.

Cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal therapy are helpful for treatment of binge eating disorder. While other approaches may be helpful for treatment of binge eating disorder, they have not been evaluated scientifically in the same way as the treatments listed here.

For more information on Binge Eating Disorder, please see the Healthtouch - Binge Eating Disorder site. This site contains facts about symptoms, causes, and complications of binge eating disorder. Another good site for information on symptoms, risk factors, and treatment is the Binge Eating Disorder site from the National Institutes of Health.


Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa involves frequent binge eating (uncontrolled overeating) and efforts to undo the effects of binge eating. These efforts can include vomiting, starving, exercising very intensely, or taking medications such as laxatives.

Cognitive behavior therapy is a beneficial treatment for bulimia nervosa. There is some evidence that interpersonal therapy is also helpful for treatment of bulimia nervosa. While other approaches may be helpful for treatment of bulimia nervosa, they have not been evaluated scientifically in the same way as the treatments listed here.

For more information on bulimia nervosa, please see the Healthtouch page on Eating Disorders. This page gives information on both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, including facts, warning signs, and associated physical problems.


Obesity

An individual is obese if she or he has too much body fat. Obesity commonly is defined as being 20% or more over recommended body weight for a given height. Obesity is an established health hazard. Researchers have documented a high rate of obesity among American adults, and more children and adolescents are becoming overweight.

Behavior therapy is a useful treatment for adult and childhood obesity. There is some evidence that hypnosis plus cognitive behavior therapy is useful for treatment of obesity in adults. While other approaches may be helpful for treatment of obesity, they have not been evaluated scientifically in the same way as the treatments listed here.

The following website provides excellent information on the health risks associated with obesity, as well as information on the definition and symptoms of obesity: National Institute of Health Weight Control Information Network


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