What are the Most Common Eating Disorder Effects?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2018
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Eating disorders are more than just poor eating habits. Eating disorders have the potential to be very dangerous and can result in hospitalization due to problems such as malnutrition or dehydration. It is important to understand that a person’s outward appearance is not always indicative of these and other internal effects.

Anorexics are people who typically fear becoming fat so they starve themselves. Bulimics go through a cycle of binging and purging. Compulsive eaters are typically people who consume excessive amounts of calories in short periods. These tend to be the most common eating disorders. The resulting effects can vary depending on the person and the disorder he or she suffers from.

Malnutrition is inadequate nutrition due to an imbalanced diet. The term is a broad one that can cover a range of more specific negative health effects. A person can suffer malnutrition from disorders that involve overeating or under eating. Insufficient vitamins, minerals, and protein supplies in the body can produce a range of serious eating disorder effects such as brain damage and death.

Electrolytes are salts, such as potassium and sodium, which the body uses to maintain proper functioning. They are essential because all cells use them. The balance of these salts in the blood is generally kept within a delicate range but the vomiting and diarrhea that often accompanies eating disorders can cause an imbalance.


Electrolyte imbalances can be painful because as the muscles weaken, they may begin to cramp. Other eating disorder effects caused by electrolytes include those related to improper brain functioning because the nerves are not properly conducting impulses. A person may suffer confusion, lethargy, and seizures.

Dehydration is often believed to simply result from the lack of liquids. Many people do not realize that the lack of carbohydrates and fat can also play a significant role. The starvation and vomiting that accompany many eating disorders can result in dehydration, which can lead to more serious problems such as kidney or heart failure.

A common but less severe eating disorder effect is dizziness. This can be caused by number larger issues such as dehydration. Tooth decay may result from the lack of vitamins and minerals or because of the acidity in vomit. People with eating disorders may suffer deteriorating external appearance. Their hair may begin to shed, their skin may begin to look unhealthy, and their fingernails may become discolored.

Some eating disorder effects are social. Sufferers can isolate themselves to accommodate or cover their problems. Anorexics, for example, may begin to avoid important gatherings such as family outings because they do not want to be in a setting with food.

The guilt that results from secret binge eating can also strain relationships. Some people have difficulty with the feelings of dishonesty that stem from hiding their secrets. Low self-esteem and depression are also commonly experienced eating disorder effects.



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