Teen Eating Disorders Guide – A Self Help Guide for Teenagers, Parents and Carers

Teen Eating Disorders Guide | Interaction Talks, A to Z on Teenagers

Teen Eating Disorders Guide

A comprehensive guide on teen eating disorders for teenagers, parents, carers and educators. This guide contains an overview of eating disorders, impact on teenagers, risk factors and causes, risk minimization techniques, treatment options and more. This guide is suitable for teens with more resources available to parents, carers and educators.


Eating disorders are a group of mental disorders that consist of abnormal eating behaviors. These abnormal eating behaviors affect a teen’s health mentally and/or physically.

Under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association 5th Edition, the types of eating disorders are as follows:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating Disorder
  • Pica
  • Rumination Disorder
  • Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
  • Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder
  • Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder

Common types of teen eating disorders

The most common and well known teenage eating disorder that has been widely publicized is anorexia nervosa, where teens, especially girls but also boys, eat very little and have a very low body weight.

Bulimia nervosa is another common teen eating disorder characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by purging.

Binge eating disorder occurs with episodes of binge eating (eating a very large amount of food) only.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) and Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED) are categories of eating disorders that were introduced in DSM-5. They were formally grouped under the category of Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).

Other types of eating disorders

The other types of eating disorders are not as commonly diagnosed in teenagers:

  • Pica – eating non-food items, is usually diagnosed in indiviuals with intellectual disability or during pregnancy;
  • Avoidant or restrictive food intake disorder – a lack of interest in food, is usually diagnosed in young children; and
  • Rumination disorder – repeated regurgitation of food, is also usually diagnosed in those with intellectual disability.

Frequency of teen eating disorders

Some statistics on eating disorders:

  1. Unhealthy weight control behaviors such as fasting, purging, taking laxatives etc are used by approximately 50% of teenage girls and 30% of teenage boys to control weight (2)
  2. Anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder will manifest in 2.7% of teenagers during their adolescent years (3)


⇒ Next: Teen Eating Disorders Guide Chapter 1: Eating Disorders in Teenagers


  1. American Psychiatric Association, Feeding and Eating Disorders, DSM Library, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, <http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.dsm10>
  2. Neumark Sztainer, D. (2005), I’m, Like, SO Fat!, New York: The Guilford Press, p. 5
  3. Merikangas KR, He J, Burstein M, Swanson SA, Avenevoli S, Cui L, Benjet C, Georgiades K, Swendsen J., Lifetime Prevalence of Mental Disorders in US Adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Study-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;49(10):980-989 <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2946114/>


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