What are the types of eating disorders?

Doctor's Answers (1)

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders

  • Serious medical and psychiatric conditions
  • Characterized by a persistent pattern of irregular eating
  • Affects a person’s physical and emotional health, ability to relate to other people, the ability to function in important areas of their lives
  • Three common kinds of eating disorders - Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge-eating Disorder
  • Involves a lot of either excessive restriction of food intake or overconsumption of food
  • The patient focuses on weight, body shape, calories
  • Causes functional problems that affect school, work productivity, interpersonal relationships, overall quality of life
  • Potentially dangerous and life-threatening as it affects the body’s ability to get nutrients for important functions in the body
  • Causes harm to multiple organs and systems - the brain, heart, digestive system, bones, blood system, reproductive system

There are 3 main eating disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge-eating Disorder.

1. Anorexia Nervosa

  • Patient fears weight gain
  • Refusal to maintain a healthy weight
  • Very low BMI
  • Distorted perception of body image
  • Excessive restriction of calorie intake
  • Uses other methods to lose weight (e.g excessive exercises, laxatives, dietary aids, forced vomiting after food)
  • Higher risk of death among the types of eating disorders

2. Bulimia Nervosa

  • Repeated episodes of bingeing and purging

3. Binge-eating Disorder

  • Bingeing on food, but not followed by compensatory behaviour displayed in Bulimia
  • Increased risk of obesity

Statistics on Eating Disorders:

  • 6-12% of the population may experience eating disorders in their lifetime
  • Lack of studies in clinical settings, lack of men seeking help for eating disorders
  • The ratio of female to male is 10 to 1
  • Limited data about the prevalence of eating disorders in Singapore
  • The prevalence rate in Singapore rising

Risk factors of Eating Disorders:

Factors increase your risk of getting an eating disorder, not necessarily causing you to have one. These factors play a part but there’s no one single factor that directly causes you to have an eating disorder, more like a combination of all of them.

Biological factors:

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Genetic influences
  • Family history of eating disorders increases risk

Environmental factors:

  • Dysfunctional family dynamic
  • Interpersonal issues (e.g breakups)
  • Careers that places a high value on thinness (e.g dancers, models)
  • Social/cultural messages from social media (e.g K-pop culture)
  • Stress, peer pressure

Individual factors:

  • Personality, mindset - unrealistic expectations about how they should look
  • “Can’t help comparing” - compare themselves other people who look much better, set extremely high standards for themselves
  • People with obsessional traits, perfectionism, low self-esteem, are overly critical on themselves, have low coping skills can lead to eating disorders

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