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Eating Disorders: Biological Factors

Eating disorders (EDs) are characterized primarily by a disturbance of eating behavior, ranging from severe restriction of intake to the point of emaciation to overconsumption and compensatory behavior. In addition, body image distortion, anhedonia, and denial of illness are prevalent. This entry focuses on the three most prevalent EDs: (1) anorexia nervosa (AN), (2) bulimia nervosa (BN), and (3) binge eating disorder (BED). A diagnosis of AN requires low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of one’s weight or shape. The criteria for BN include recurrent binge eating and actions meant to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, as well as overvaluation of body weight and shape. A BED diagnosis involves recurrent binge eating without inappropriate compensatory behavior, and ...

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