This Seminar adds to the previous Lancet Seminar about eating disorders, published in 2003, with an emphasis on the biological contributions to illness onset and maintenance. The diagnostic criteria are in the process of review, and the probable four new categories are: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and eating disorder not otherwise specified. These categories will also be broader than they were previously, which will affect the population prevalence; the present lifetime prevalence of all eating disorders is about 5%. Eating disorders can be associated with profound and protracted physical and psychosocial morbidity. The causal factors underpinning eating disorders have been clarified by understanding about the central control of appetite. Cultural, social, and interpersonal elements can trigger onset, and changes in neural networks can sustain the illness. Overall, apart from studies reporting pharmacological treatments for binge eating disorder, advances in treatment for adults have been scarce, other than interest in new forms of treatment delivery.
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