Eating disorders and obesity

Common types of eating disorders:

Anorexia nervosa: A condition in which people avoid food, or eat only very small amounts of certain foods, with body weight frequently on the scale. Dieting behavior is driven by an intense fear of gaining weight or obesity, with individuals losing weight in the first place. Through dieting, fasting, excessive exercise, and/or stomach emptying behaviors (vomiting and use of laxatives), and its symptoms include:

  • Extreme thinness (emaciation).
  • Stopping menstrual periods in women.
  • Dizziness or fainting due to dehydration.
  • Mild anemia, muscle wasting and weakness.
  • Brittle hair and nails.
  • A decrease in the internal body temperature, which makes a person feel cold all the time.
  • Heartburn and reflux (in those who vomit)
  • Severe constipation and a feeling of bloating and fullness after meals.
  • Stress fractures caused by compulsive exercise as well as loss of bone density leading to osteoporosis (thinning of the bones).
  • Depression, irritability, anxiety, poor concentration, and fatigue.
  • Serious medical complications can be life-threatening and include heart rhythm disturbances, especially in those who vomit, use laxatives, or have kidney problems.
  • The death rate in anorexia nervosa is higher compared to other disorders due to the occurrence of medical complications related to hunger then followed by the second reason, the suicide.

Bulimia nervosa:

It is a condition in which people suffer from recurring episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food with a loss of control over what the person eats or how much food they eat, followed by behavior in which they compensate for the overeating (such as forced vomiting (Excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors). Sufferers may experience slight weight loss, normal weight, or weight gain, which are possible signs that may indicate injury:

  • Go frequently to the bathroom immediately after eating meals. –
  • Chronic sore throat.
  • Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
  • Erosion of tooth enamel, increased tooth sensitivity and tooth decay as a result of exposure to stomach acid (during intentional vomiting).
  • Acid reflux disorder and other digestive problems.
  • Irritation and disruption of intestinal function as a result of misuse of laxatives.
  • Severe dehydration due to loss of body fluids either through vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Disturbances in levels of sodium, calcium, potassium, and other minerals in the blood, whether high or low, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
  • Bulimia can lead to rare but potentially fatal complications, including esophageal rupture, stomach rupture, and serious heart arrhythmia.

Binge eating disorder:

It is a condition in which people lose control over their food intake and suffer from repeated episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food in short periods of time or at times of fullness without resorting to behaviors to get rid of food, and those suffering from it often suffer from being overweight or obese. The symptoms include:

  • Eat even when you are full or not hungry.
  • Eat quickly during binge attacks.
  • Eat until you feel uncomfortably full.
  • Eating alone or in secret; To avoid embarrassment.
  • Feeling upset, ashamed, or guilty about eating

Specific Avoidant Eating Disorder:

It is a condition in which a person limits the amount or type of food he eats; Which leads to a continuous failure to meet the – nutritional needs of the body. This type of eating disorder is the most common in middle childhood, causing the child to not eat enough calories to grow and develop properly.

Its symptoms are:

  • Decreased appetite and lack of interest in eating or food.
  • Excessive food avoidance based on the sensory characteristics of foods (e.g. texture, appearance, color, smell).
  • Excessive weight loss.
  • Stomach upset, abdominal pain, or other digestive problems without a specific cause.
  • Fear of the consequences of eating food (e.g.: fear of choking, nausea, vomiting, constipation, allergic reaction, etc.).


Eating disorders are very complex conditions and their causes are still under study. Although they all share problems related to eating and weight, it is believed that they result from people trying to overcome their painful feelings and emotions by controlling food, which leads to damage to the person’s physical and psychological health and self-esteem. Factors that affect the development of eating disorders in people include:

  • Genes (such as: a first-degree relative suffering from eating disorders).
  • Environmental pressures that make a certain body type ideal, placing unjustified pressure on people to achieve unrealistic standards and linking them to success, happiness, and beauty (such as: thinness for women or muscles for men).
  • Individual pressures that a person is exposed to, especially teenagers (such as: bullying or ridicule) due to size or weight.

Risk factors:

Eating disorders affect everyone, however there are some risk factors that put some people at greater risk of developing them, including:

  • Age where eating disorder is common during adolescence and early twenties.
  • Women and girls are more susceptible to infection.
  • Family history of infection.
  • Excessive dieting can become an eating disorder.
  • Times of change (such as: going to university or starting a new job) represent stress factors.
  • Certain professions and activities where eating disorders are particularly common among gymnasts, runners and wrestlers.


It is important to treat eating disorders early. People with eating disorders can often suffer from other psychological disorders (such as depression or anxiety).

The treatment plan includes:

  • Individual, group and/or family psychotherapy
  • Medical care and monitoring
  • Nutritional consultations
  • Medicines
  • Psychological treatments

Tips for parents when there is a child or young person with an eating disorder:

  • Maintain calmness and do not blame or judge him and focus on what he feels.
  • Avoid talking about appearance or discussing diet or weight problems.
  • Try to plan and make meal plans with them.
  • Agree with the family not to talk about portion sizes, calories, or anything else related to the meal.
  • Avoid eating low-calorie or diet foods in front of them or eating them at home.
  • Enjoy the meal with them and not focus on them during meal times.
  • Parents should set a good role model by eating a balanced diet and getting a healthy amount of exercise.
  • Try to build confidence by praising them for their thinking or congratulating them for something they have done.