Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour. 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 include a range of conditions that can affect someone physically, psychologically and socially.
Eating disorders 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 usually more complex. There may be some biological or influencing factors, combined with an experience that may provoke the disorder, plus other factors that encourage the condition to continue.
If eating disorders are not treated, an eating disorder can have a negative impact on someone’s job or schoolwork, and can disrupt relationships with family members and friends. The physical effects of an eating disorder can sometimes be fatal. Treatment for eating disorders is available, although recovering from an eating disorder can take a long time. It is important for the person affected to want to get better, and the support of family and friends is invaluable.
Treatment usually involves monitoring a person’s physical health while helping them to deal with the underlying psychological causes.