Entries in Eating Disorder (7)


EDNOS: Deadliest Eating Disorder Is Quietly the Most Common

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Taylor wants to like herself, but she can't turn off the voice inside her head that tells her she's not good enough and that the way she looks isn't perfect.

"It really feels like it is a second person inside of you," she said.  "It's like your best friend but your enemy at the same time.  It's hard to distinguish sometimes the ED talking and what's Taylor talking."

"ED" is the nickname Taylor, 20, gives to her eating disorder diagnosis, which, as she puts it, was "switched all over the place."

"Originally I was diagnosed with bulimia," she said.  "Then my symptoms didn't match bulimia.  So then they diagnosed me as anorexia, binge/purge type, because there are two different types.  And then I didn't meet the weight criteria for anorexia.  So then they said, 'OK, you have EDNOS.'  And I was like, 'Well, what is that?'"

EDNOS stands for "eating disorder not otherwise specified," and up to 70 percent of all eating disorders come under the EDNOS banner.  According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 24 million people in the U.S. of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder.

Many of the EDNOS symptoms are the same as other eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia, but don't fully meet the criteria of those disorders.  On the other hand, EDNOS sufferers might exhibit a combination of eating disorders, such as being severely strict with counting calories but then still purging after eating.

The issues lie as much in the mind as in the meal, said Dr. Douglas Bunnell, a clinical psychologist and vice president of The Renfrew Center, a renowned eating disorder treatment program with 11 locations in nine states.

"It's still a misperception out there that these are relatively benign sorts of disorders or diets gone bad," Bunnell said.  "These are life-threatening, serious illnesses.  They have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric diagnosis."


After receiving an EDNOS diagnosis, Taylor said she felt a little disappointed, as if her condition wasn't as serious as the more well-known eating disorders.

"Because you only hear about bulimia and anorexia," she said.  "A lot of people don't think -- just because you don't meet the weight criteria, 'Oh, you don't have an eating disorder.'"

But EDNOS is a deadly condition, with a morality rate of 5.2 percent -- higher than both anorexia and bulimia -- despite the fact its sufferers often look healthy.

Watch Nightline's full report on EDNOS and those who suffer from it Wednesday at 11:35 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


"What Not to Wear" Star Stacy London Reveals Eating Disorder Past

Soul Brother/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- What Not to Wear star Stacy London spends her days making over other people’s lives, but now the star is opening up about her own makeover past.  In her early 20s, London battled anorexia and compulsive overeating.

With extreme dieting that led to anorexia, London whittled her 5-foot-7 frame down to 90 pounds.

“I felt like I’d never had a serious boyfriend and I really wanted to be attractive,” she told People magazine.

London’s weight struggles shifted after a brief hospitalization.  The TLC star turned to binge eating, which brought her to 180 pounds a year later.

London, 43, chronicles her weight struggles in her new book, The Truth About Style, out Oct. 2.  She hopes her story will help others who battle eating disorders.

“When you can talk about something and shine light on it, you’re obliterating shame,” London said.  “And that to me was always the really hard part, to feel so filled with shame and having no recourse to thinking it could get better.”

London is no longer trying to make over her body.  She is just happy being herself.

“My value doesn’t simply come from [being thin],” she said.  “It comes from me and solely from me. It took me a long time to recognize that.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Eating Disorders Common in Older Women, Study Finds

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- Eating disorders have no boundaries when it comes to age, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

While people may associate eating disorders with teen girls and young women, there may be a growing number of older people who experience the same struggles.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina surveyed more than 1,800 women 50 and older to see how many had eating disorders and to assess the impact of disordered eating in women who engaged in these practices.  Sixty-two percent of the women reported that their weight negatively impacted their lives, 8 percent reported purging and 70 percent said they were in the process of dieting or trying to lose weight.

This study “really busts the myths that disordered eating is the province of adolescent and young adult women,” said Dr. Cynthia Bulik, director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program and lead author of the study.  “We have very little clinical research on mid- and late-life eating disorders.  The most important thing for clinicians is to keep eating disorders on their radar screen regardless of a patient’s age.”

The women reportedly turned to several unhealthy methods of weight loss, including diet pills, diuretics, laxatives, vomiting and excessive exercise.

Whether there is more awareness and diagnoses remains unclear, but researchers said eating disorders can be “common” among women over 50.

The triggers may be different among different age groups, but traumatic life events tend to trigger or contribute to eating disorders, no matter the age, according to experts at the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).  When an older person experiences the illness, it is usually because an earlier eating disorder has resurfaced, but not always.  Disorders can be triggered by divorce, death of a loved one or children moving away.

“It can be hard to come forward because some older patients are concerned about the stigma of having a younger person’s disorder, but we know that eating disorders persist into older adulthood, eating disorders relapse during older adulthood and we know that late onset occurs, too,” said William Walters, helpline manager at NEDA.

“Late onset isn’t at all surprising,” he added.  “Midlife can be hard, and just as difficult a transition as the teens and early adulthood, in its own way.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Binge Eating Increasing Amongst Men, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MIDDLETOWN, Conn.) -- Men are overlooked when it comes to diagnosing and treating binge eating, a disorder that affects four million Americans and has been historically associated with women, according to new research.

A study published Wednesday in the International Journal of Eating Disorders reveals that the condition is just as damaging to men, and yet they seek treatment less often.

Binge eating disorder (BED) is defined as having at least one episode a month of overeating with "a sense of loss of control," according to the study's lead author Ruth Striegel, professor of psychology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.

Her team used cross-sectional data from a sample of 21,743 men and 24,608 women who participated in a health risk self-assessment screening.  They found that 1,630 men (about 7.5 percent) and 2,754 women (11 percent) binge eat.

"Anytime we exclude a population, we are not learning about them," she said.  "In a way, we are inadvertently giving the message that men don't have the problem, and they do."

"Data suggests that the impairment is basically just as bad in men as it is in women.  Yet we focus only on women," Striegel said.

She estimates anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of all men experience the symptoms of binge eating.  More women than men, however, report psychiatric symptoms like the "purging" associated with bulimia, according to Striegel.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Eating Experts Have Bone to Pick With Controversial "Anna Rexia" Costume

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A skin-and-bones costume titled "Anna Rexia" found its way onto the online inventory of popular beauty and costume store Ricky's before being pulled from the company website, according to the Village Voice.

The reaction to the item was swift.

"I'm just appalled because eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness," said Trish Jones-Bendel, a board member of National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders.

"Depending on the rates, and how long people have had the disorder, mortality [for the illness] can be from 10 to 15 percent. There are also high suicide rates with people that have anorexia. There's not a system of the body that it does not impact."

An advertisement for the costume shows a woman in a provocative pose holding a measuring tape wrapped around her waist, showing off a bone atop her head, and a skeletal view on the dress that includes a little red label spelling out "Anna Rexia." The overview stated, "Miss Anna Rexia costume has knit dress with glitter screenprint." The then-expected price tag for the item: $49.99, according to VV.

"It's no laughing matter. It reinforces the comments that people don't understand them. This really saddens me to see how people misunderstand them. In a culture like ours where we're supposed to be so educated, we just missed the point so much with the population that need our help," said Jones-Bendel, who noted that upwards of 12 million people suffer from eating disorders.

The Gothamist reported that the costume was not available for Ricky's Costume Superstore shoppers. The item was listed online as "coming soon."

A quick Internet search netted results for the costume in sizes from extra small to plus sizes. The costume has been around for a while. In 2009, the costume was listed as one of the eight weirdest, tackiest, creepiest, and sickest costumes. While some stores are dropping the Halloween costume, the item can still be found at stores in the United Kingdom.

One store,, fails to be spooked by the controversy surrounding the costume, providing a clarification note about the costume.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


For Some, Weight-Loss Surgery Can Trigger Eating Disorders

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When multiple traditional diet methods fail, weight-loss procedures such as lap band surgery are seen as a last hope for getting obese patients to eat more healthfully and lose weight.

But for an under-recognized minority of patients, the surgery only triggers a different kind of disordered eating.  For some, it's bulimia, while for others, it's anorexia.

Sixty percent of individuals seeking treatment for obesity have some kind of eating disorder, usually binge eating, according to a 2007 Harvard study.  It is these individuals, who already have an unhealthy relationship with food and their bodies, who are at most risk of developing further eating disorders post-surgery, says Lisa Lilenfeld, a psychologist and president of the Eating Disorders Coalition at Argosy University in Washington, D.C.

Lap band or gastric bypass surgery is not likely to create an eating disorder where there wasn't one, she explains, but "the most likely thing is that people had untreated or unsuccessfully treated binge eating disorders before surgery will continue to have problems after surgery.  The problem is, it becomes physically challenging and potentially dangerous to binge like this because of the structural changes in the stomach," she says.

On the other end of the spectrum, patients who used to overeat now overshoot with their weight loss, severely limiting their caloric intake to the point of malnutrition and anorexia.

"I've had a number of patients go from very obese to very underweight, so much so that they need to be rehabilitated with intravenous nutrition," says Dr. Donald Kirby, a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic who treats patients undergoing bariatric weight-loss surgery.

Because there are still no statistics on how many of these patients experience eating disorders post-op, it's difficult to gauge the scope of this issue and there is much debate over its prevalence between the surgeons who perform the procedures and the therapists who treat eating disorders down the line.

Dr. Mitch Roslin, a bariatric surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, has performed thousands of bariatric surgeries and he says he only sees one or two cases a year of eating disorders, but psychologist Lilenfeld believes it's much more common than that.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Demi Lovato's Shocking Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder

ABC/Heidi Gutman(NEW YORK) -- After checking into treatment at a residential facility, teenage Disney darling Demi Lovato received a shocking diagnosis: she was bipolar.

"I had no idea that I was even bipolar until I went into treatment," the 18-year-old told ABC News.  "I was actually manic a lot of the times that I would take on workloads, and I would say, yes, I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.  I was conquering the world, but then I would come crashing down, and I would be more depressed than ever."

Lovato, who recently announced she was leaving her hit tween comedy, Sonny with a Chance, to focus on her music career, sang her way to the top of the pop charts and heights of wholesome teen icon status, but her natural outward confidence in front of the camera could not protect her from the inner, lasting effects of childhood bullying.

"I've spoken openly about being bullied throughout the past few years, but one thing that I've never been able to feel comfortable talking about was the effects that it had on my life, afterwards," she said.  "I literally didn't know why they were being so mean to me.  And when I would ask them why, they would just say, 'Well, you're fat."

Her torment turned into a dangerous habit.

"I developed an eating disorder, and that's kind of what I've been dealing with ever since," she said.

Lovato began a lifelong struggle with bulimia and alternately, severely restricting her eating.

Her family helped her find professional help for her food issues.  But there was a secret battle she fought alone, something she desperately hid from everyone: At age 11, Lovato began cutting herself -- intentionally self-mutilating her wrists as a way of coping with emotions.  It was a dangerous coping mechanism that continued throughout her teen years.

Last summer, it all came to a boiling point during her concert tour with the Jonas Brothers for the Disney Channel musical, Camp Rock 2.

"I was performing concerts on an empty stomach," she said.  "I was losing my voice from purging.  I was self-medicating.  I was not taking medication for depression, and I literally was so emotionally whacked out that I took it out on someone that meant a lot to me."

Lovato admitted to physically striking one of her backup dancers, Alex Welch, during the South American leg of their international tour.  Lovato's family and management team then held an intervention.

She immediately quit the tour and checked in to Timberline Knolls -- a residential treatment center in Illinois for women battling addiction and eating disorders -- where she was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.

While in treatment, Lovato learned to alter her coping skills and found better ways to deal with her emotions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio