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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.

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 in Australia

Eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder have a significant and underestimated impact on Australian society.

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

Disordered Eating

What is disordered eating? Disordered eating is when a person regularly engages in unhealthy and destructive eating behaviours such as restrictive dieting, compulsive eating or skipping meals. Disordered eating can include behaviours which reflect many but not all of the symptoms of eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

Eating disorders - myDr.com.au

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are 2 main forms of eating disorders. These illnesses mainly affect young females.

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

Eating Disorders Explained - Downloadable Fact Sheets

If you have experienced an eating disorder or are concerned about someone you know you will find the latest information you need here.

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)

What is EDNOS? A person with Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) may present with many of the symptoms of other eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa but will not meet the full criteria for diagnosis of these disorders.

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

Males get eating disorders too. Eating disorders in men and boys

While they are often portrayed as disorders that only affect females, studies suggest up to a quarter of people diagnosed may be male.

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

OSFED The Butterfly Foundation

Read more on Butterfly Foundation website

Recovery Support Groups The Butterfly Foundation

Read more on Butterfly Foundation website

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