Eating disorders are serious, sometimes life-threatening, conditions that affect many college-age students. The main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. These conditions have complex and damaging effects on a person’s mental and physical health, relationships and academic success.
People struggling with an eating disorder need to seek professional help. The earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of physical and emotional recovery. Treatment for eating disorders is most effective when it includes psychotherapy, health monitoring by a physician, nutrition education, and sometimes medications. Hospitalization may be needed if your life is at risk.
Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss. Symptoms include:
In anorexia nervosa’s cycle of self-starvation, the body is denied the essential nutrients it needs to function normally. Thus, the body is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy, resulting in serious medical consequences:
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by a secretive cycle of binge eating followed by purging. Bulimia includes eating large amounts of food--more than most people would eat in one meal--in short periods of time, then getting rid of the food and calories through vomiting, laxative abuse, or overexercising. Symptoms include:
The recurrent binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia can affect the entire digestive system and can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions. Some of the health consequences of bulimia nervosa include:
Binge Eating Disorder (also known as Compulsive Overeating) is characterized primarily by periods of uncontrolled, impulsive, or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling comfortably full. While there is no purging, there may be sporadic fasts or repetitive diets and often feelings of shame or self-hatred after a binge. People who overeat compulsively may struggle with anxiety, depression, and loneliness, which can contribute to their unhealthy episodes of binge eating. Body weight may vary from normal to mild, moderate, or severe obesity.
Binge eating disorder often results in many of the same health risks associated with clinical obesity. Some of the potential health consequences of binge eating disorder include:
Other eating disorders can include some combination of the signs and symptoms of anorexia, bulimia, and/or binge eating disorder. While these behaviors may not be clinically considered a full syndrome eating disorder, they can still be physically dangerous and emotionally draining. All eating disorders require professional help.
Source: Information found on this page is from the National Eating Disorders Association website.
The University of Minnesota offers confidential, specialized help to students with eating disorders. This includes mental health care, medical care, and nutrition assessments at Boynton Health Service. Group therapy is offered through the Boynton Health Service Mental Health Clinic. In addition, referrals to outside resources can be provided by Boynton Health Service as needed. Visit Boynton's Mental Health Services page for more information.
American College of Sports Medicine
Eating Disorders Anonymous—Minneapolis
Visit website for meeting times.
Eating Disorders Research Program
University of Minnesota
Second Tuesday of every month 6:30-8:00 p.m.
The Emily Program, St. Paul Location
National Eating Disorders Association
Treatment—The Emily Program
St. Paul, St. Louis Park, Burnsville, Duluth, Woodbury Visit website
Treatment—Water’s Edge Counseling and Healing Center
Treatment—Melrose Institute at Park Nicollet
St. Louis Park, MN