Texas Tech University

Eating Disorders Pamphlet

By: Neetha Devdas, M.A.

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Many men and women just like you go through periods in their life when they become concerned about their weight. In college, weight concerns might become even more profound because you may be struggling to find time to work out, eat right, and take care of yourself. In addition, you may be facing stressors that you have not previously experienced, and may resort to unhealthy eating habits in order to cope with these stressors. At times, many men and women feel so overwhelmed by their concerns for their weight that they go to extremes to lose weight or maintain a certain weight or size. In these instances, it is possible to develop an eating disorder. Eating disorders are serious mental and physical health issues and need to be taken very seriously. If you are worried that you or someone you know is developing, or has developed an eating disorder, please consider the following information carefully.

Statistics on Eating Disorders

  • Approximately 1 in 5 women have some type of eating disorder
  • Males make up approximately 10-15% of individuals with eating disorders
  • The majority of women with eating disorders are between the ages of 10 and 25
  • College women and high school girls are particularly at risk for eating disorders as the average age of onset is 17

Signs & Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Weight-loss of more than 25% or more without a medical reason for the loss.
  • Extreme fear of weight gain
  • Restriction of food and extreme tracking of calorie intake
  • Excessive and strictly controlled exercising (more than is necessary to maintain good health)
  • Denial of hunger
  • Unusual eating habits – cutting food into little pieces, chewing slowly and excessively
  • Loss of menstrual period

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Excessive concern about weight
  • Eating extremely large amounts of food (binging) and especially foods that are high in calories
  • Vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics to control weight
  • Very secretive about food, vomiting, or binging
  • May be normal weight to slightly overweight or underweight

Binge-Eating Disorder

  • Overeating to the point of feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating compulsively (feels uncontrollable)
  • Feeling shame following a binge
  • No purging of any kind is involved
  • May go through periods in which there is fasting or severe dieting
  • May be average size, overweight, or morbidly obese

Depressed moods are also common with all of the above disorders.

Consequences of Eating Disorders

Unfortunately, many men and women are uninformed about the devastating effects of eating disorders. However, the consequences of long-term disordered eating and exercising are profound. Some lasting effects include, but are not limited to the following:

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Unusually slow heart rate leading to increased risk of heart failure
  • Loss of bone density leading to osteoporosis
  • Muscle atrophy (loss of muscle tissue)
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Hair loss


  • Cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and possibly heart failure
  • Gastric issues including chronic gastric reflux and peptic ulcers
  • Deterioration or inflammation of the esophagus from binging episodes
  • Perimolysis (loss of tooth enamel) and eventual tooth decay from vomiting
  • Irritable bowel syndrome and bowel tumors from use of laxatives


  • Hypertension (high-blood pressure)
  • Type II Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol
  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease
  • Gastrointestinal complications
  • Osteoarthritis

What to do if you have an Eating Disorder

It may be difficult for you to admit that you are concerned about your eating or exercising habits. However, eating disorders are life-threatening, so it is important that you take action to help yourself. Please consider the following if you are concerned about your eating and exercise habits:

  • Be as informed as possible about the signs and symptoms of eating disorders before approaching a friend
  • Do not assume that by talking to them about eating, or forcing them to eat, they will do so
  • Express to them your concern and talk with them about what you have noticed.
  • Do not be judgmental, but instead caring and encouraging
  • Encourage them to seek services and be ready with referrals
  • If your friend is underage, or you are, let an adult know so that they can assist you
  • Know that ultimately it is up to the person to want to seek services or change

Final Note

It is important to keep in mind that you or your friend may be feeling an excessive amount of guilt and shame surrounding exercise, eating or binging habits. You or your friend may also feel very out of control and feel like the eating disorder cannot be stopped. Know that you are not alone in your feelings and that there is help out there. For more information about eating disorders, please visit the following websites:

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