A person has an eating disorder when their attitudes to food, weight, body size or shape lead to marked changes in their eating or exercise behaviours, which interfere with their life and relationships. Eating and exercise behaviours that people with eating disorders may engage in include: dieting, fasting, overexercising, using slimming pills, diuretics, laxatives, vomiting, or binge eating (consumption of an unusually large amount of food accompanied by a sense of loss of control).
Eating disorders are not just about food and weight. They are also not about vanity or will-power. Eating disorders are serious and potentially life threatening mental illnesses, in which a person experiences severe disturbances in eating and exercise behaviours because of distortions in thoughts and emotions, especially those relating to body image or feelings of self-worth. People in all age groups, genders and socio-economic and cultural backgrounds can be affected by eating disorders. A person with an eating disorder can be underweight, within a healthy weight range, or overweight.
(Reference: Mental Health First Aid Australia)
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