Eating can be controlled or affected by a range of factors, such as appetite, the types and quantities of foods available, family, peer, and cultural practices or pressures, eating habits, and voluntary desires to control eating.
Eating Disorders are serious disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme and unhealthy food intake reduction or severe overeating. In addition to the eating aspects, those who suffer from Eating Disorders in other ways. For example, they may also have feelings of distress, depression, or are extremely concerned about their body shape or weight.
In today’s society, current fashion trends, sales campaigns for special foods, and various activities and professions promote an often unrealistically lean body type, where body weight is leaner than that needed or recommended for health reasons.
These pressures can induce people to eat less than the recommended amounts, and lead to a range of eating disorders. Researchers continue to investigate the link between voluntary behaviors, such as eating smaller or larger amounts of food than normal, and the time when such activities move beyond the person’s control and develop into an Eating Disorder.
Eating Disorders frequently develop during adolescence or early adulthood. However, recent research suggests that their onset can also occur during childhood or later in adulthood.
Eating disorders frequently occur in conjunction with other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. Females are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder. For example, approximately one-sixth of people with Anorexia or Bulimia are male, and approximately one-third of people with Binge-Eating Disorder are male.
People with eating disorders may experience a range of serious physical health complications, including serious heart conditions and kidney failure which may lead to death.
It is important to note that Eating Disorders are not due to a failure of will or behavior. In fact, Eating Disorders are now known to be real, treatable medical illnesses in which certain harmful eating patterns become dominant. Recognition of eating disorders as real and treatable diseases is very important.
Appetite control and the affect of prolonged overeating or starvation is a highly complex area, and research is continuing in these areas. Eventually, such research may lead to new and improved treatments for eating disorders. Eating disorders are not new illnesses. They have been present in one form or another for centuries.