Eating disorders

Indian J Pediatr. 1998 Jul-Aug;65(4):487-94. doi: 10.1007/BF02730877.


Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are primarily psychiatric disorders characterized by severe disturbances of eating behaviour. Anorexia nervosa has been well documented in pre-pubertal children. Eating disorders are most prevalent in the Western cultures where food is in abundance and for females attractiveness is equated with thinness. Eating disorders are rare in countries like India. As Western sociocultural ideals become more widespread one may expect to see an increase in number of cases of eating disorders in non-Western societies. Etiological theories suggest a complex interaction among psychological, sociocultural, and biological factors. Patients with anorexia nervosa manifest weight loss, fear of becoming fat, and disturbances in how they experience their body weight and shape. Patients with bulimia nervosa present with recurrent episodes of binge eating and inappropriate methods of weight control such as self-induced vomiting, and abuse of diuretics and laxatives. Major complications of eating disorders include severe fluid and electrolyte disturbances and cardiac arrhythmias. The most common cause of death in anorexia nervosa is suicide. Management requires a team approach in which different professionals work together. Individual and family psychotherapy are effective in patients with anorexia nervosa and cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective in bulimia nervosa. Pharmacotherapy is not universally effective by itself. Patients with eating disorders suffer a chronic course of illness. The pediatrician plays important role in early diagnosis, management of medical complications, and psychological support to the patient and the family.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy
  • Body Image
  • Bulimia / diagnosis*
  • Bulimia / psychology
  • Bulimia / therapy
  • Child
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Patient Care Team