Eating Disorder: A Major Risk to Your Health

What is an eating disorder? What risks does it pose to your health? Many factors can cause eating disorders health risks. Learn more here.

Table of Contents

Common Types of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders have devastating consequences for those with the disorder. These disorders cause unhealthy eating behaviors, leading to physical and psychological problems. Biological, psychological, and environmental factors can cause eating disorders health risks. All eating disorders have one thing in common: they pose a significant risk to a person’s health. The most common type of eating disorders include but are not limited to:1

Eating Disorders Health Risks

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Anorexia Nervosa

This type of eating disorder causes life-threatening physical and psychological issues. This disorder causes a distorted body image and an exaggerated fear of weight gain. Often referred to as anorexia, it is a severe but treatable eating disorder. Due to the fear of weight gain, anorexics engage in extreme dieting.2

Anorexia: Eating Disorders Health Risks

The disorder affects all genders, but females have a higher chance of developing an eating disorder. Statistics have shown that females outnumber males with the disorder at a ratio of 10 to 1. However, an eating disorder can impact anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, age, race, or other circumstances. Eating disorders health risks can take a toll on anyone and should not be underestimated.
The eating disorders health risks associated with anorexia include:3

  • Malnutrition: Not consuming enough calories or nutrients and maintaining a healthy body weight can lead to malnutrition. Malnutrition can cause fatigue, hair loss, skin problems, organ failure, and death.
  • Digestive Problems: Restrictive eating behaviors can lead to constipation and bloating. In some cases, self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse causes ulcers and acid reflux.
  • Cardiovascular Problems: Due to low potassium levels, anorexics are susceptible to heart problems. People with anorexia may suffer from low blood pressure, a slow heart rate, and even heart failure.
  • Osteoporosis: This condition weakens the bones and increases the risk of bone fractures. Calcium deficiency may affect bone health and lead to long-term bone problems.
  • Poor Mental Health: Another eating disorders health risk is poor mental health. Persons with anorexia often have depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. A distorted body image worries them and causes them to overeat. Recovery may be challenging and slower with poor mental health.

Bulimia Nervosa

This type of eating disorder causes episodes of binge eating followed by purging. Purging happens through self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives. Bulimia nervosa causes a lack of control over overeating during binge episodes. It causes individuals with the disorder to eat large amounts of food even when they are not hungry. The guilt from overeating causes them to isolate themselves when eating.

Bulimia Nervosa Eating Disorders Health Risks

Symptoms of bulimia include weight fluctuations, sore throat, acid reflux, and dental problems. There are several eating disorders health risks of bulimia nervosa, and they include:

  • Gastrointestinal Problems: Additional eating disorders health risks associated with bulimia include gastrointestinal problems. Laxative abuse can cause dehydration, stomach ulcers, acid reflux, and constipation. These problems can lead to chronic gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Electrolyte Imbalance: Added eating disorders health risks affiliated with bulimia includes creating an imbalance in the body’s electrolytes. This imbalance can affect heart function and lead to heart failure.
  • Dental Problems: Frequent vomiting can cause enamel damage, tooth decay, and loss. People with bulimia may also experience gum disease, bad breath, and mouth sores.
  • Social Isolation: The shame associated with bulimia forces people with the disorder to eat away from people’s gaze.
  • Physical Health Problems: Women with bulimia nervosa may experience hormonal imbalances or infertility. They may also experience hair loss and skin problems.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge Eating Disorder is a disorder attributed to recurrent episodes of binge eating. It causes a person to consume excessive food without control. People with BED eat without control even when they are not hungry. They also eat alone because they feel guilty and embarrassed about eating.

Binge Eating Disorder Health Risks

The eating disorders health risks of BED includes:3
  • Obesity: Being obese can increase the risk of health problems. Being obese increases susceptibility to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Gastrointestinal problems, such as acid reflux, stomach ulcers, may also occur.
  • Mental Health Problems: People with BED often experience depression and anxiety. They may also have a distorted body image and engage in restrictive eating and purging.
  • Low Self-Esteem: People with binge eating disorders are also at risk of low self-esteem. They may feel embarrassed and avoid social situations or activities they enjoy.
Eating Disorders Health Risks

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED)

OSFED is a category of eating disorders that do not meet the diagnostic criteria for other known eating disorders. Some examples of OSFED include atypical anorexia, binge eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa.4

OSFED can have serious eating disorders health risks, like other eating disorders. People with OSFED may experience weight fluctuations and heart disease, and diabetes. OSFED can also cause acid reflux, stomach ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

ARFID is an eating disorder that explains a persistent failure to meet nutritional and energy needs. Unlike other eating disorders, such as anorexia, ARFID does not involve a distorted body image or a desire to lose weight.

People with ARFID avoid certain foods or food groups based on sensory characteristics like texture, taste, or smell. They also have an aversion to specific foods due to a negative experience, such as choking or vomiting. As a result, they may restrict their food intake to the point where they are not getting enough nutrients.

Risks Associated With ARFID

ARFID can pose significant eating disorders health risks if left untreated. People with ARFID may experience malnutrition, constipation, and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. People with ARFID may experience anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders. They may also have difficulty socializing or participating in activities that involve food.

Get Help for Eating Disorders at Alternative Options

Effective treatment for eating disorders involves a combination of therapy and medication. Therapy helps eating disorders by helping people identify and change the negative thoughts and behaviors contributing to binge eating.

Eating disorders may complicate a person’s physical and psychological well-being. If you or a loved one has an eating disorder, you should get help. Getting help for an eating disorder is not a shameful thing. It is the bravest thing to do. At Alternative Options, we offer different treatment methods for eating disorders. You are our utmost priority, and we would love to see you improve. Contact us today.