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What are not Eating Disorders?

Not only mass media but also professional literature reports about "strange" forms of Eating Disorders:

  • Orthorexia nervosa ("pathological behaviour as regards healthy food ")
  • Latent eating obsession
  • Latent obesity
  • Bulimic shopping
  • Bulimic exercising etc.

All these terms are manifest nonsense!

Overweight and Obesity are not Eating Disorders

The social thinness and diet obsession concerning body weight leads to lots of wrong imaginations. It is scientifically intolerable to define overweight or obesity as an Eating Disorder. Obesity or overweight are not mental or psychiatric disturbances and therefore not Eating Disorders! Compared to Eating Disorders that are mentally caused disturbances, weight similar to body height also depends on genetic and environmental factors (inexpensive, tasty, plentiful food and a combination of passive leisure pursuits, sedentary lifestyle). Obesity may damage health. Regarding subgroups of obesity (e.g. Binge Eating Disorder), you may also find mental factors being causally involved in the genesis and the maintenance of obesity.

Overweight people and especially people with obesity are affected by the social thinness obsession and at the same time stigmatised because they are so distant from the thinness ideal. The lack of social support, often social ostracism, mockery and devaluation, exclusion etc. can lead to psychosocial problems starting unfortunately in childhood and adolescence (already in primary school!) and continuing until they become adults. Therefore, since its foundation the Network Eating Disorders has been trying hard to bridge the lack of Obesity research and treatment and has been included the term "Obesity" in its logo.

Concerning weight, false beliefs in the terms "Broca-Index", "ideal weight" or "feeling-happy-weight" should be omitted!
The Body Mass Index (BMI = kg/m2) has generally been accepted as a standardised weight measure.

Weight groups for adults (from the age of 18)
(different scales are necessary for children & young persons)

  BMI (kg/m²)
Underweight < 20
Normal weight 20 - 25
Overweight 25 - 30
Obesity 30 - 40
Massive Obesity > 40

Diet behaviour is not an "innocent" behaviour (diet as gateway drug!) and should be seriously taken into consideration for treatment! ("Don't diet!").
Food reducing diet is a relative (or as regards starvation diet an absolute) state of starving because of lack of needed energy that should be supplied to the body. It has been proven that reduction of food favours the emergence of binge eating disorders.
Physical appearance gets more and more important in our society and is sold as a product: Control of the body image as a determining factor of the control of public opinion. The visual perception dominates all other senses. Unfortunately we find egalitarianism and standardisation (Mc Donaldisation) propagated by our individualistic society. An ideal (similar to cloning) is sold: the one and only particular weight, particular figure / nose / breast etc... Eating Disorders and cosmetic surgery are only two sides of the coin.

Regarding both, Eating Disorders and Obesity, a reorientation in prevention and health support away from the individually orientated "risk-approach" to the "population-approach" (Public-Health-approach) should take place. Due to the fact that the frequency of extreme clinical pictures (Eating Disorders or Obesity) determines the mean value (thinness obsession, sedentary lifestyle and plentiful food), beside "rescue operations" as well as treatment of sufferers there should also be a radical but maybe more effective socio-economical approach as regards prevention and a political approach as regards lifestyle (Rathner 1992).