Physical Effects of Anorexia

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What is Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized most notably by weight loss and nutrient deficiency. Those with anorexia have difficulty maintaining an appropriate weight for their size and shape. They may restrict their calorie intake, exercise compulsively, use laxatives, and/or purge in order to keep their weight low. Anorexia affects people of all genders, ages, or any other demographic categorizations. Anorexia cannot be diagnosed by simply looking at a person, because people can suffer from anorexia without looking like the stereotypical thin image. Those who live in larger bodies can be underweight and suffer from anorexia that is equally serious and severe.

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Physical Effects of Binge Eating Disorder

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What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder that is denoted by excessive food intake, often driven by a need to soothe negative emotions. Those suffering from binge eating disorder (BED) repeatedly and uncontrollably eat extreme amounts of food. Following episodes of bingeing, those with BED usually experience feelings of guilt, shame, or distress. In an attempt to regain control, individuals may begin to restrict food or try restrictive dieting, which often ends in another episode of bingeing. This cycle of bingeing and restricting is challenging to break without professional treatment.

Binge eating disorder was added to the DSM-5 in 2013. According to the DSM-5, the key diagnostic features of binge eating disorder that must be met are:

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School & Community Resources

School & Community Resources

WithAll’s “What to Say” campaign

The mission of WithAll’s “What to Say” campaign is to stop diet and weight talk to protect the physical and mental health of kids. Find resources for what to say instead, as well as answers to your everyday questions about supporting kids as they navigate food and body image issues.

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NEDA school and community resources

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) provides an educator toolkit, school resources, and educational brochures that can be downloaded for free.

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Be Real curriculum resources

Be Real provides curriculum resources to use with children in classroom settings or after-school groups.

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ED 101 Presentation

View this recorded presentation from The Emily Program to learn eating disorder basics.

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Informational materials

Download informational materials from The Emily Program. Materials can also be ordered and sent to your school or community center.

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Resources to share with parents are available in our For Families section.

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The Truth About 5 Eating Disorder Myths

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An estimated 30 million people in the United States have an eating disorder. The majority of them do not receive professional care. Many experience shame and stigma because of their illness, and many struggle all alone.

By educating ourselves and others, we can work to reduce stigma and to better understand these complex illnesses that affect so many. Here are five myths and facts about eating disorders.

Myth: Eating disorders affect only thin, young, white women.

Fact: This is the stereotypical image of eating disorders—a thin, young, white woman. It is this woman we’ve seen in media depictions of these disorders and heard about most in common chatter. Even within the field, research has historically focused on clients who fit this profile, in part because white women were (and still are) the most likely to receive care.

But this narrow demographic does not accurately reflect the diversity of those who experience these illnesses. Far from it. Eating disorders affect people of all ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, body sizes, classes, and abilities. They’re not just a “teenager’s problem” or a “white girl’s problem.” They’re not something that affects only wealthy people, or only cisgender people, or only people of any other social group. Eating disorders don’t discriminate in these ways; they span across all social categories.

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Teenagers and Eating Disorders

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We know that eating disorders can and do affect people of all ages.

They’re not a “teenage phase.” They’re not a “teenager’s problem.” They’re mental health conditions that impact children and adults as well.

We also know that teenagers are particularly susceptible to developing these illnesses. Research shows that the average age of onset is between 16 and 18 years, and eating disorders occur in nearly three percent of 13- to 18-year-olds.

It’s clear that eating disorders often develop during the adolescent and teenage years—but why?

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How can Gyms and Coaches Recognize an Eating Disorder?

Student Athletes

Eating disorders are brain-based illnesses involving food and body that are severe and can become life-threatening. These illnesses typically involve food restriction or overconsumption, body image issues, and altered food behaviors like eating in secret or skipping meals. Eating disorders also frequently include compensatory behaviors like overexercising, which puts gym and coaches in a unique spot to catch eating disorders. In order for gyms and coaches to successfully recognize and address eating disorders, they must first be aware of their common signs and symptoms.

Eating Disorder Signs and Symptoms

Eating disorders are serious illnesses that affect eating habits and desires and cause severe distress about food, weight, size, and shape. Eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of their gender, race, age, or any other demographic categorization. The five types of eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, OSFED, and ARFID. Signs and symptoms of eating disorders that gyms and coaches may be able to spot include:

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