Disordered eating describes a variety of abnormal eating behaviors that, by themselves, do not warrant diagnosis of an eating disorder. Disordered eating includes behaviors that are common features of eating disorders, such as chronic restrained eating, compulsive eating, binge eating with associated loss of control, and self-induced vomiting. Disordered eating also includes behaviors that are not characteristic of any eating disorder, such as irregular, chaotic eating patterns, ignoring physical feelings of hunger and satiety (fullness), use of diet pills, emotional eating, and night eating. Disordered eating can represent a change in eating patterns caused by other mental disorders (e.g. clinical depression), or by factors that are generally considered to be unrelated to mental disorders (e.g. extreme homesickness).
Certain factors among adolescents tend to be associated with disordered eating, including body mass index, negative affect (mood), self-esteem, perfectionism, drug use, perceived pressure to lose weight from parents and peers, and participation in sports that focus on leanness. These factors are similar among boys and girls alike.
Disordered eating among athletes, particularly female athletes, has been the subject of much research. In one study, women with disordered eating were 3.6 times as likely to have an eating disorder if they were athletes. Disordered eating, along with amenorrhea and bone demineralization, form what clinicians refer to as the female athletic triad, or FAT.
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