About Eating Disorders

Binge eating disorder (BED), anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are frequently seen nowadays especially among youngsters. It is a constellation of unhealthy eating patterns and weight-related attitudes and behaviours [1]. Malaysia having one in five university students at risk of eating disorders [1]. Oftentimes, people may encounter psychological consequences, negative life events, tend to stress on their physical appearances or medical problems that alter one’s perspectives towards body image and eating behaviour. Extreme measures like dieting, exercise excessively, purging episodes and inappropriate eating behaviours that are taken to manage their body image and shape which may result in negative long term health effects [1, 4]. 

Anorexia nervosa, having the highest mortality rate among the eating disorders with exclusively thin appearance and body weight less than 85% of normal weight [2]. Patients practise diet restriction or purge after ingesting foods forcefully. While on the opposite end of AN are the BN and BED, which bulimia includes several recurrent eating episodes that one loses sense to control their appetite followed by purging, self-induced vomiting, overexercising or use of laxatives to prevent weight gain [5]. Similar to bulimia, binge eating involves episodes of uncontrolled eating patterns but excluding purging behaviours [2]. 3% of Malaysia population were suffering from bulimia and 1% suffering from anorexia [6].

Signs and symptoms are general and similar to other health problems. For example, tiredness, appearance of fine and dry hair, irritability, obsessional thinking for anorexia; burning sensation of throat, hoarseness of voice, irregular menstruation, dental decay or irritable bowel for bulimia [2, 5]. Yet, a proper diagnosis is required from both doctor and psychologist assessing physical and mental health.

Both physical and psychological health are at risks. Common health complications are nutritional disturbances due to the long period of dysfunctional dietary habits and severity of the disorder. Normal hormone regulations disrupt the harmony of one’s body, affecting nutrients absorption and utilization in the body, resulting in one to be constantly tired, loss of muscle mass, bone mineral or body fats. In the long run, deficiencies of minerals and vitamins lead to growth retardation, osteoporosis or death. Besides, social problems arose during puberty, family conflicts, social isolations due to low self-esteem and minimal self-concept [2]. 

Prevention is better than cure. Development of one’s positive attitudes and healthy perceptions towards body image and body knowledge is necessary since young. Emphasize on health rather than weight and avoid using judgemental terms about one’s appearance [3]. Family members may create and practise a healthy lifestyle for a proper balanced diet incorporated with physical activities, also suitable outlets to manage one’s stress and pressure from work, school and more [3]. 

Accept, embrace and appreciate yourself and your body..


  1. Chin, Y., S., Appukutty, M., Kagawa, M., Gan, W., Y., Wong, J., E., Poh, B., K., Shariff, Z., M., Nasir, M., T., 2020. Comparison of Factors Associated with Disordered Eating between Male and Female Malaysian University Students, Nutrients, 12(2), pp.318.
  2. Lim, N., L., 2012. Eating Disorders. [Online] Available at: http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/eating-disorders/ [Accessed 14 Oct 2020]
  3. Malaysian Dietitian’s Association, 2020. Combat your Child’s Eating Disorder. [Online] Available at: https://www.dietitians.org.my/health-info/combat-your-child%E2%80%99s-eating-disorder [Accessed 13 Oct 2020]
  4. National Eating Disorders Association, 2020. Body Image and Eating Disorders. [Online] Available at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/body-image-eating-disorders [Accessed 22 Oct 2020]
  5. National Eating Disorders Association, 2020. Bulimia Nervosa. [Online] Available at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bulimia [Accessed 14 Oct 2020] 
  6. Rasman, N., S., Kay, N., A., M., Ahmed, S., U., Kabit, A., M., 2018. Prevalence of Eating Disorders among Medical Students in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia, Indian Journal of Natural Sciences, 8(46), pp. 13024-13031.

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