What Are Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are a group of conditions involving extreme concern about body weight or shape, poor self-perception and low self-esteem. In people with eating disorders the symptoms will include an obsession with food – calorie counting, portion control and strict diets – as well as exercise – how many calories you burn, what you can eat after a workout and how much you weigh.
Groups of people most at risk of developing an eating disorder include the following:
Teenagers and young adults – especially women
People with a family history of eating disorders
Women in high achieving groups, such as dancers, gymnasts and athletes who need a low body weight
People may show signs of an eating disorder from the age of eight years old. However, it is usually not until their teenage or early adulthood years that they realize there is a problem and seek help. In some cases this can lead to severe problems as young people often struggle with family members who are opposed to them seeking treatment.
Eating disorders are life-threatening, but it is possible to recover from them with treatment and support. About 90 percent of people get better over the long term with treatment (although some may relapse). People who have eating disorders often do not realize that they need help until their condition has reached an advanced stage or caused significant damage.