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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.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2018

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