What is an Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders comprise a range of specific diagnoses. Anorexia Nervosa (AN) involves dietary restriction and weight loss. Bulimia Nervosa (BN) involves binge eating and will have a purging element (which may involve vomiting, or the taking of diuretics or laxatives). It may be easier to conceal BN from others than AN as it may not involve weight loss but both illnesses are equally serious and potentially deadly.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED), in contrast to bulimia, has no purging element attached as compensatory behaviour for binge eating. There are other subtypes of these eating disorders and, because they do not satisfy any other specific diagnostic criteria, they are often classified collectively as EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).
It appears that what eating disorders have in common is that they result from what might be termed the biology of starvation; malnutrition appears to be a common factor in the genesis of an eating disorder. BED is a relatively newly discovered disorder, with little clinical research, however, like other eating disorders, it is a mental illness resulting from abnormal nutrition or disordered eating. The fact that scientists now believe that there is a strong element of genetic predisposition necessary for an eating disorder to come about would indicate that these illnesses should attract no shame or blame on the part of the sufferer or their families - they did not choose it, they did not cause it, it is not their fault.