Eating disorders involve serious disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake or severe overeating, as well as feelings of distress about body shape or weight. An estimated 5 to 8 million Americans—90% of them women in their teens to early adulthood—are diagnosed with an eating disorder. While eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating, mainly affect girls and young women, these serious and potentially fatal disorders are now prevalent in children as young as nine and, increasingly, in boys and men as well. The causes of eating disorders are complex, and include physical, emotional, and social factors. Eating disorders are not simply bad habits or difficult behavior that can be controlled; they are medical conditions that require professional attention. Treatment needs vary by the individual but generally include a combination of psychotherapy and attention to medical and nutritional needs.
This helpful new guide provides a wealth of practical information on eating disorders, from their signs and symptoms to various treatment options and the consequences on daily life. Sidebars, appendixes with useful resources, and further reading guide additional exploration, and case studies and real-life examples throughout the book illustrate the impact of living with an eating disorder.