Essay by catswhiskers2College, Undergraduate October 2004

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There are a variety of eating disorders these days and many people suffer from them. Adolescent women are the majority of those affected, although young men may suffer from an eating disorder as well. The two most common of these eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

An eating disorder is determined by a person's body weight. If a person's body weight is at least fifteen percent (15%) below their "ideal" weight, they are diagnosed as having an eating disorder.

The difference between anorexia nervosa and bulimia is that people with anorexia starve themselves and bulimics will go on an eating binge and then purge their meals. Anorexics will avoid eating high calorie foods and exercise much more frequently than someone suffering from bulimia. Anorexics will hoard their food. People who suffer from bulimia are the opposite. Bulimia is seen as a pattern of excessive overeating, followed by vomiting or other purging behaviors to control weight.

Both anorexics and bulimics will take laxatives or diuretics to keep from gaining weight.

Anorexics usually restrict their intake to fewer than 1,000 calories per day which is basically starving them. Most anorexics also avoid fatty, high-calorie foods. While bulimics, on the other hand, will eat a lot of food, usually exceeding the normal daily calorie intake, by ingesting some 3,400 calories or more per day, then purge them out.

Those who suffer from an eating disorder have a fixation with being thin. They lose weight and have a fear of gaining or looking fat. They have a distorted image of their bodies and still see themselves as being fat when they are afflicted with an eating disorder.

Having an eating disorder isn't solely about food and weight though, and unfortunately there is no specific cause for an eating disorder...