We’ve heard about anorexia nervosa which led to the death of Karen Carpenter and bulimia nervosa. The three most common eating disorders, according to the Mayo Clinic, are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. I researched and wrote my dissertation on binge eating in women over the age of 30, something researchers hadn’t addressed. In my national sample with primarily health center personnel, my oldest binger was 75.
We also classify several specific feeding or eating disorders as eating disorders, and they include pica, rumination disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, and others. Although we think of pica as primarily associated with infants and toddlers, there are adults who consume non-nutritive substances such as clay, corn starch or laundry starch. According to medical professionals, a diet lacking in particular nutrients is the root cause of the desire to eat laundry starch.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorders affect about 30 million people in the United States. Also, it is estimated that 28.8 million Americans, or 9% of the country’s population, will experience an eating problem in their lives.
A recent study of 12,000 teenagers ages 13 to 18 found that almost 4% of teenage girls and 1.5% of teenage boys have eating disorders. Also, according to a survey of 9,282 individuals, roughly 10 million men and 20 million women in the United States have an eating disorder that is clinically serious in their lifetime.
It is crucial to remember that not everyone who has an eating problem has a medical diagnosis of being underweight; in fact, less than 6% of eating disorder sufferers have this diagnosis. Genetic heredity also affects the risk for eating disorders, with 28–74% of the risk being genetic.
Overall, eating disorders are serious problems that can endanger a person’s health, emotions, and ability to do basic things that are necessary for life. It’s critical to get professional help if you or someone you love is dealing with an eating disorder in order to recover and control symptoms.
But now we also have to deal with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) and atypical-type anorexia nervosa (AN), which are two more types of unusual eating. ARFIDs are mainly characterized by a clear lack of interest in food, avoiding food products because of their color, shape, or packaging, or avoiding food because of phobic-like symptoms, such as after-choking episodes.
ARFID, or avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, makes it difficult to meet one’s nutritional and/or energy needs and results in at least: nutritional deficiencies, weight loss or failure to gain the right amount of weight, a need for enteral feeding or nutritional supplements, or significant disruption of daily activities.
Psychological symptoms of ARFID include avoiding or limiting certain foods or textures, feeling anxious around mealtimes, being sensitive to sensory input, being afraid of choking or throwing up, and other things.
People with ARFID may wear layers to hide weight loss or stay warm. They may also complain of constipation, abdominal pain, cold intolerance, lethargy, and/or too much energy, and they may have recurring gastrointestinal problems (upset stomach, feeling full, etc.) around mealtimes for no known reason.
Some people with ARFID may also show signs of anorexia nervosa, like worrying about their body size and weight, avoiding meals with a lot of calories, being against being fat, and having a bad body image that isn’t distorted.
It’s crucial to remember that ARFID can manifest in people of all ages and may share characteristics with other eating disorders like anorexia nervosa. In cooperation with a healthcare practitioner, a proper diagnosis and treatment strategy should be created.