Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

The three most common eating disorders

We will explain what the three most common eating disorders are. These are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.
Scale, tape measure and an apple
© By TeroVesalainen via pixabay
We will explain what the three most common eating disorders are. These are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

Anorexia nervosa (anorexia)

  • When you have anorexia, you eat so little that your weight becomes too low.

  • On top of that you have an extreme fear of gaining weight or becoming fat.

  • You also have a distorted image of yourself. This means that you see or feel your body differently than it really is. You think you are too fat, but in reality you are not.

  • When you have anorexia you often don’t see that underweight is harmful.

Bulimia nervosa (bulimia)

  • When you have bulimia, you have at least one food binge once a week over a period of 3 months. A food binge is eating too much food in a short period of time. You cannot prevent a food binge.

  • With bulimia you always ‘undo’ a food binge, for instance by vomitting or doing sports. Sometimes someone takes pills or does not eat for days. This ‘undoing of a food binge’ is called compensation.

  • With bulima you also have a distorted image of yourself; you often see yourself fatter than you really are.

Binge eating disorder

  • Just like with bulimia, you have at least one food binge once a week over a period of 3 months.

  • A binge eating disorder is very similar to bulimia nervosa. The only difference is that you do not try to ‘undo’ the food binge.

More information about eating disorders can be found at the website of Beat Eating Disorders

© University Medical Center Groningen
This article is from the free online

Young People and Mental Health

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now