Eating Disorder Treatment – Professor Michael Kohn

Eating Disorders

A person has an eating disorder when their attitudes to food, weight, body size or shape lead to marked changes in their eating or exercise behaviours, which later affect physical health and interfere with their life and relationships.

Eating and exercise behaviours include: restricting intake of food and fluids, overexercising, or purging by use of pills, such as diuretics and laxatives, vomiting, or binge eating (consumption of an unusually large amount of food accompanied by a sense of loss of control). Eating disorders are serious and potentially life threatening mental illnesses, in which a person experiences distortions in thoughts and emotions, especially those relating to body image or feelings of self-worth.

People of all ages, genders and socio-economic and cultural backgrounds are affected by eating disorders. A person with an eating disorder can be underweight, within a healthy weight range, or overweight.

Assistance to diagnose and care for someone with an eating disorder is available . Centres such as Total Health Care have a multidisciplinary team of health professionals who can assist.

There are four different types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and ‘eating disorders not otherwise specified’ (EDNOS). If the person you are helping is underweight and continuing to use weight-loss strategies, they may have anorexia. If the person is engaging in binge eating followed by purging strategies, they may have bulimia. A person with bulimia can be slightly underweight, within a healthy weight range, or overweight. If the person regularly eats an unusually large amount of food in a short period of time, accompanied by a sense of loss of control over their eating, but does not use extreme weight-loss strategies to compensate, they may have binge eating disorder.

People with binge eating disorder may be within a healthy weight range, though are typically overweight. If the person does not fit the description of anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, but their attitude to food, weight, body size or shape is seriously interfering with their life, they may have EDNOS. Some examples of EDNOS include when the person is using extreme weight-loss strategies but does not have the very low body weight of a person with anorexia, or when the person has infrequent episodes of binge eating or vomiting.

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