Atypical Eating Disorders
(Eating Disorder Not
CHRISTOPHER G. FAIRBURN
B. TIMOTHY WALSH
The leading classificatory systems in psychiatry both recognize two main eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa was characterized in the late 19th century, and bulimia nervosa was first described in 1979. (See Chapter 27 for an account of the histories of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.) These “typical” eating disorders have been the focus of much clinical and research attention, and there is a tendency to equate the concept of an “eating disorder” with these two diagnoses. This is not appropriate, for it appears that the relatively neglected “atypical” eating disorders are at least as common as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa in clinical practice, and are a substantial source of morbidity. These atypical eating disorders are the subject of this chapter. (Certain atypical eating disorders seen in children differ from those seen in adults. These are discussed in Chapter 37.)
To start with, it is necessary to define an eating disorder. There have been surprisingly few attempts to do this. We suggest that an “eating disorder” be defined as a persistent disturbance of eating behavior or behavior intended to control weight, which significantly impairs physical health or psychosocial functioning. This disturbance should not be secondary to any recognized general medical disorder (e.g., a hypothalamic tumor) or any other psychiatric disorder (e.g., an anxiety disorder). Clearly, anorexia nervosa and bulimia
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Publication information: Book title: Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Comprehensive Handbook. Edition: 2nd. Contributors: Christopher G. Fairburn - Editor, Kelly D. Brownell - Editor. Publisher: Guilford Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 171.
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