Eating Disorders

Types and symptoms of eating disorders

Eating disorders -- such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder - include extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues.

Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males.Learn more about following types of eating disorders and their symptoms.

Consequences of eating disorders

Eating disorders are potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person's emotional and physical health, and they can have severe consequences for health, productivity and relationships.

Eating disorders among college students

Eating disorders affect people of all ages but are especially prominent among college students.

The Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association (MEDA) cites the following statistics on college student eating disorders:

  • 15% of women 17 to 24 have eating disorders.
  • 20% of college students said they have or previously had eating disorders.
  • 91% of female college students have attempted to control their weight through dieting.

While recent information is not available, experts say eating disorders among male college students are also increasing.

Diagnosing college student eating disorders

The earlier eating disorders are diagnosed in college students and treated, the more likely it will be that they will recover completely. And yet many college students do not receive treatment for their eating disorders until their illness is at an advanced stage.

At that point, college students, like other patients, may already have or may be at risk of having a severe medical condition. Eating disorders can damage almost every organ system or body part, including the brain, liver, kidneys, heart, GI tract, bones, teeth, skin and hair.

Eating disorders can result in osteoporosis, slowed growth, kidney problems, ulcers and heart failure if left untreated. Eating disorders can also lead to death.

So why aren't eating disorders diagnosed earlier? One reason is that college students with eating disorders often hide them.

College students with eating disorders - and their family and friends - may be in denial about their eating disorders or be unaware of the signs of eating disorders.

Another reason is that many college students who have eating disorders are not people we would think of as having eating disorders.

We've come to think of eating disorders as affecting young women. Yet, they are increasingly common in males and females, and people of all ages, from pre-teens to seniors. While college students are especially at risk, eating disorders are increasingly common even in pre-teens.

The more a college student knows about eating disorders, the better they will determine whether other college students, family members, or friends have eating disorders.

Types of college student eating disorders

The most common college student eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder.

Most patients do not meet all of the clinical criteria for their eating disorders. Even if they have some of the symptoms or come close to meeting the requirements, they should seek medical treatment.

If you know a college student with an eating disorder, or believe that you or a loved one have an eating disorder, seek professional counseling immediately.

Remember, the longer an eating disorder goes untreated, the more advanced it is likely to become - and the more difficult it will be to achieve full recovery.

Sources: Content Adapted from Walden Center for Education and Research, National Eating Disorders Association; Online Screening for Eating Disorder
Missouri Eating Disorder Council; Eating Disorder Center of Kansas City