Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Types of eating disorders

2-minute read

The main types of eating disorders are:

  • Binge eating disorder (BED): This is Australia’s most common eating disorder, making up almost half of all eating disorders. Someone suffering from this disorder will frequently consume enormous quantities of food, even when they are not hungry. They often feel shame and guilt after an eating binge; however, unlike those with bulimia nervosa, they do not purge their food. It is common for people with binge eating disorder to fast or go on diets in response to the way they feel after a binge.
  • Bulimia nervosa: People with this disorder have frequent eating binges, often in secret, and then get rid of the food by purging. This means they eat excessive amounts of food and then get rid of it through vomiting, laxatives or diet pills. People with bulimia often feel out of control. Just over 10% of people with eating disorders have bulimia nervosa.
  • Anorexia nervosa: About 3% of people with eating disorders have anorexia nervosa. People with the condition are severely underweight and have an excessive fear of putting on weight. They have a distorted body image and see themselves as fat. Their preoccupation with food and body image is an obsession that severely impacts what and how they eat. They create extreme rules and restrictions about their diets and exercise schedules.
  • Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED): a person with OSFED has many of the symptoms of other eating disorders but they do not exactly match the symptoms of any of these disorders. People with OSFED commonly have extremely disturbed eating habits and/or a distorted body image. Around a third of people who seek treatment for an eating disorder have OSFED.

Where to get help

Eating disorders are treatable. Visiting a doctor is the first step to recovery.

You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from the Butterfly Foundation on 1800 33 4673.

Call Eating Disorders Victoria on 1300 550 236 or (03) 9417 6598 if you are interstate.

Last reviewed: February 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

How far is too far - other eating disorders

People with OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders) dont meet the exact criteria for anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Eating disorders - myDr.com.au

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are the main forms of eating disorders.Symptoms include abnormal eating patterns, and a tendency to be worried or preoccupied with foo

Read more on myDr website

Other eating disorders

The most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has made several changes to the categorisation of eating disorders. The category that was known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), has been removed, and there are two new categories; Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) and Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED). These new categories are intended to more appropriately recognise and categorise conditions that do not more accurately fit into Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, BED, or the other eating and feeding disorders.

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Bulimia (binge eating disorder) information | myVMC

Bulimia nervosa is a psychological disease characterised by episodic, uncontrolled binge eating, followed by self-induced vomiting to avoid weight gain.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Disordered Eating & Dieting

Disordered eating can include behaviours that reflect many but not all of the symptoms of feeding and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED)

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

Eating disorders

Eating disorders are a mental illness. The most common types are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and other binge eating disorders. They can affect women and men of all age groups, from a range of backgrounds and cultures. Many people might be living with these disorders without being diagnosed.

Read more on WA Health website

For people with an eating disorder

Perhaps someone has approached you with the suggestion that you may have an eating disorder, or perhaps you suspect it yourself.

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Eating disorders | Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Eating disorders share symptoms such as a distorted view of body shape and weight, and extreme disturbances in eating behaviour. Read about Garvan's research and understanding of these disorders.

Read more on Garvan Institute of Medical Research website

Eating disorders, anxiety and depression

Having an eating disorder is neither a lifestyle choice, a ‘diet gone wrong’, nor an attempt to get attention. A person with an eating disorder has a mental health condition.

Read more on beyondblue website

Anorexia nervosa | Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Eating disorders share symptoms such as a distorted view of body shape and weight, and extreme disturbances in eating behaviour. Read about Garvan's research and understanding of these disorders.

Read more on Garvan Institute of Medical Research website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo