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Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors around weight and food issues. The three most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder, also known as Compulsive Overeating.

In Anorexia Nervosa, a preoccupation with dieting and thinness leads to self starvation and excessive weight loss. Symptoms include intense fear of weight gain, feeling fat despite dramatic weight loss, extreme concern with body weight and shape, and loss of menstrual periods. Untreated, anorexia can be fatal. Like other eating disorders, Anorexia typically begins during adolescence, and affects more girls than boys.

Bulimia is characterized by periods of binge eating followed by purging (self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, or over-exercising), while a compulsive overeater binges but does not purge.

Causes of eating disorders are complex and are not completely understood, and may include

psychological factors, such as low self-esteem
interpersonal factors, such as troubled family relationships or history of abuse
social factors, such as cultural norms that glorify thinness
biological or biochemical factors

All eating disorders require professional help. The most effective treatment is therapy or psychological counseling coupled with careful attention to medical and nutritional needs.

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