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Eating disorders are characterized by abnormal eating habits. Eating disorder is not only a dietary problem, but it is a severe psychological condition that pervades over all aspects of each sufferer's life. In most cases, eating disorder is caused by a variety of emotional factors and has a severe effect on the people suffering, as well as on their close ones.

Eating disorder is not the same thing as dieting. Dieting is defined as a special dietary regiment focused on losing a little bit of weight. However, people affected with eating disorders are usually trying to make their whole life better by making certain changes in normal eating habits. In many cases, people suffering from eating disorders do not have any excess weight. The root of their trouble is somewhere in the psychological realm and their problems with low self-esteem. Slenderness is one of the most significant obsessions of a modern world, and the impact of pop culture and marketing is shown to be a significant contributor to body image concerns and attitudes toward eating. It is estimated that around 8 million of people in the United States currently suffers from eating disorders. About 10% of these people are men, but a true number is probably much higher as a result of a popular misconception that this illness strikes only women. Men are less likely to seek help they desperately need.

The most common eating disorders

Anorexia nervosa has an average prevalence of 0.3-1% in women and 0.1% in men in the developed world. It usually affects teenagers and it is characterized by the refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and an obsessive fear of gaining weight. Although it occurs in females 10 times more than in males, it can affect both men and women of any age, race or cultural background.

Bulimia nervosa is also very common among men suffering from eating disorders. According to the official medical statistics, this illness affects between 0.1% and 1.4% of males, and between 0.3% and 9.4% of females. It occurs more frequently in developed countries, and it manifests as consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time, followed by an attempt to remove the food from the body by vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics.

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder among Americans. It is estimated that binge eating affects about 3.5% of females and 2% of males. People affected with this disorder are losing control over consumption of food and eat unusually large amounts of food at one time. They usually eat when they are depressed or bored, to relieve psychological tension. After the binge episodes, these patients feel depressed, guilty or even disgusted.

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