Eating disorders most often occur in teenage girls and young women. These disorders cause a person to have unhealthy thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to food and body image. Eating disorders include:
- Anorexia nervosa. People with anorexia nervosa have a distorted perception of their body size and shape and may be very afraid of gaining weight or getting fat. They eat very little and often become extremely thin. But even when they become very thin, they may deny how serious their weight loss is or still believe they are overweight and may continue trying to lose weight. Some people with anorexia make themselves vomit. Females may stop (or never start) having menstrual periods. Complications, such as anemia or irregular heartbeats, may also develop.
- Binge eating disorder. This is a disorder in which people have episodes when they feel as if eating is out of their control. They consume more food than they normally would eat, in a short period of time. People who have binge eating disorder are often embarrassed or feel guilty about their behavior. Binge eating disorder may be the most common eating disorder.
- Bulimia nervosa. People who have bulimia nervosa are overly concerned or worried about their body shape and weight. They also feel out of control of their eating and have binge eating episodes. To try to prevent weight gain, people with bulimia nervosa use "purging"—self-induced vomiting, laxatives or water pills, or excessive exercise—after a binge eating episode.