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Eating Disorders


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What should I know about eating disorders?

Even though most of the publicity surrounding eating disorders focuses on women, men develop eating disorders too.

What is anorexia nervosa?

People who purposely starve themselves and lose an extreme amount of weight may suffer from anorexia nervosa. People with anorexia think they're overweight (even though they may not be) and continue to think they're overweight even when they get to be very thin. Starvation can cause harm to vital organs such as the heart and brain. The nails, hair, and bones of a person with anorexia can become brittle, and the skin can become dry and sometimes becomes yellow or covered with soft hair.


What is bulimia nervosa?

People with bulimia nervosa eat large amounts of food (also called bingeing) at least two times a week and then vomit (also called purging) or exercise compulsively. Because many people that “binge and purge” maintain their body weight, they may keep their problem a secret for years. Vomiting can cause loss of important minerals, life-threatening heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), damage to the teeth, and swelling of the throat.


What if I think my roommate, classmate, or friend might have an eating disorder?

If you know someone with an eating disorder, the best thing you can do is give them support and encouragement. Urge the person to get help, and be persistent. Many colleges have treatment programs for these conditions and trained counselors who can relate to people with an eating disorder. They can help the person with an eating disorder understand his/her problem.


What if I think I might have an eating disorder?

If you think you might have an eating disorder, you should go to the student health center or counseling center and get help. Talk with your family and close friends. Going for help and talking to others about your feelings and illness can be very difficult, but it's the only way that you're going to get better.


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Written by the CYWH and YMH Staff at Children's Hospital Boston


Updated: 3/12/2015



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