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HealthInfo Canterbury

About eating disorders

Eating disorders are serious and unhealthy eating patterns. They are generally divided into anorexia nervosa (often called anorexia) and bulimia nervosa (often called bulimia). There are other eating disorders as well, such as binge-eating disorder and what's called "eating disorder not otherwise specified".

If you suspect that you or your relative or friend may have an eating disorder it's important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Treatment is more successful if eating disorders are treated early. Having an eating disorder can put you or your relative or friends' health in danger, and medical help can reduce the risk. Eating disorders can be mentally very difficult to live with, and treatment can help you or your relative or friend to recover.

Many people with eating disorders such as bulimia or binge eating feel embarrassed, ashamed or guilty. This can stop them getting help. However, treatments can help most people move beyond having an eating disorder, and can also minimise the physical risk that comes with an eating disorder. It is good to be assessed by a health professional such as your GP. Your GP will have helped other people with eating disorders and everything you discuss will be confidential.

In this section

What is anorexia?

What is binge eating?

What is bulimia?

Eating disorders in males

Effects of dieting

Family & friends' FAQs about eating disorders

How common are anorexia & bulimia?

How to approach your teenager's eating issue

Myths about anorexia and bulimia

Signs and symptoms of possible eating problems

What are the health and social risks of an eating disorder?

What causes an eating disorder?

Page reference: 75495

Review key: HIEDI-73561