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Eating disorders (EDs) are mental illnesses that can be potentially life-threatening and affect more than a million people in the UK.
Anorexia nervosa is characterised by inability or refusal to eat. Has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, as a result not only of malnourishment but also of suicide.
Bulimia is characterised by episodes of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting or other measures to counteract the excessive food intake.
EDs usually begin in adolescence or early adulthood. They are about coping with emotional distress and gaining a sense of control. EDs can persist for several years, and affect emotional, physical and social development. They can cause chronic physical problems, and family distress and dysfunction.
NICE NG69 Eating disorders: recognition and management; 2017 (updated 2020) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng69
Royal College of Psychiatrists Mental health problems and disorders https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/problems-disorders
beat (Beating Eating Disorders) UK charity for people with eating disorders and their families https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk