The eating disorder normally develops in teens and young adults, even though they may develop at other ages as well. The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown, but like other diseases, there are several factors that may cause it, such as:

Genetics – Some people have genes that increase the risk of developing eating disorders.

Psychological and emotional health - People with eating disorders may have psychological and emotional problems such as low self-esteem, impulsive behaviour, perfectionism, and troubled relationships.

Types of eating disorders:

There are different types of eating disorders, such as:

Bulimia nervosa – Commonly called bulimia, is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder. It causes episodes of bingeing and purging, which involves feeling a lack of control over your food. In most cases, people with bulimia nervosa restrict their eating habits during the day, which normally leads to more binge eating and purging.
People with bulimia eat a large amount of food in a short period of time, then try to get rid of the extra calories in an unhealthy way. This is normally due to guilt, shame and an intense fear of weight gain caused by overeating. They may force themselves to vomit, or may exercise too much, or even use other methods like using laxatives to help get rid of the calories.

Anorexia nervosa – This is a type of eating disorder that is potentially life-threatening. Anorexia is normally characterized by abnormally low body weight, distorted perception of weight or shape, and an intense fear of gaining weight. People with anorexia are constantly using extreme effort to control their weight and shape, which may interfere with their health and daily lives.
People with anorexia nervosa excessively limit calories or use other methods to help lose weight, like excessive exercise, diet aids or using laxatives, or vomiting after eating.


Binge-eating disorder – This is a type of eating disorder that causes you to regularly eat too much food, resulting in you feeling a lack of control over your eating. You may eat more food than intended or eat quickly even when you don’t feel hungry. You may continue to eat even long after you are comfortably full.

How are eating disorders treated?

Eating disorder treatment depends on the type of eating disorder diagnosed. Treatment includes nutrition education, medication and psychotherapy. Nutrition education involves designing an eating plan to help achieve healthy eating habits. Medications are prescribed to help control the urge to binge, purge or manage excessive preoccupations with diet and food. Psychotherapy may include family-based therapy, especially for children and teenagers, and cognitive behavioural therapy.


1What are the complications of eating disorders?

Eating disorders may cause a variety of complications; some of them are life-threatening. The more severe or long-lasting the eating disorder is, the more likely you may experience serious complications like:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Work or school issues
  • Serious health problems
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviour
  • Social and relationship problems
  • Substance use disorders
  • Death
2What are the risk factors of an eating disorder?
Eating disorders normally affect teenage girls and young women. Teenage boys and men may also be affected. There are certain factors that may increase the risk of eating disorders, including family history, mental disorder, stress, dieting and starvation.
3Can an eating disorder be prevented?

There are no sure ways to prevent eating disorders; however, there are strategies that may help, such as:

  • Avoid dieting around your child
  • Talk to your child
  • Cultivate and reinforce a healthy body image

"Do not only go through pain but grow through pain"





A psychiatrist is a qualified doctor that specialises in the medical treatment of mental health conditions, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists can assess both mental and physical aspects of psychological conditions and are able to prescribe appropriate medication.