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HealthInfo Canterbury

How do I know if someone has an eating disorder?

If you think that you or a relative or friend may have an eating disorder, it's important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Treatment is more successful when people with eating disorders get help early, especially for children and young people.

Having anĀ eating disorder can put a person's health in danger, and medical help can reduce theĀ risk. Eating disorders can be mentally very difficult to live with, and treatment can help you, or your relative or friend, to recover.

If someone you know has an eating disorder, you may notice some of these changes (exactly which ones will depend on the person and their eating disorder).

Changes in their behaviour

It's common for people with eating disorders to:

Changes in their body

Eating disorders can cause physical changes such as:

Changes in their mood

Someone with an eating disorder may:

Eating disorders in young people can be about wider body image issues, feelings of self-worth, or a way of asserting control over their life. If you see any of these changes in a child, it usually indicates more than just a problem with food.

Written by the Eating Awareness Team, St John of God Waipuna. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by the South Island Eating Disorders Service, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed December 2017.

See also:

What are the long-term effects of an eating disorder?


Page reference: 73922

Review key: HIEDI-73561