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Definition of Eating Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified

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Parent Handouts and Info - Parent


Eating Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified is diagnosed in children who have serious eating problems that do not fit the characteristics of other disorders. These children may eat too much or too little, or be afraid of gaining weight. They may have an unrealistic idea of their body shape or weight. They may try to hide their eating problems. They may have many medical problems as a result of their eating problems. Eating Disorder NOS is just as serious as other eating disorders and requires prompt medical intervention.


All Ages

Age Groups

Preschool/Kindergarten (3-5), School Age (6-12), Adolescence (13-21)

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Eating Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified

Eating Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified

You said that you were concerned your child's eating.

S/he may:

  • Be unable to stop eating once s/he starts, and/or
  • Try hard to control his/her weight.

You also said that your child has some of the following problems related to weight and eating:

  • Often eats too much
  • Often eats too little
  • Weighs more than other kids his/her same age and height
  • Has not been gaining weight as you would expect him/her to
  • Refuses to keep his/her weight at or above the lowest normal weight for his/her age and height
  • Denies his/her low body weight is a serious health problem
  • Is too afraid of gaining weight or becoming fat
  • Has the 'wrong idea' or is unrealistic about his/her body shape or weight
  • Denies that weight loss or dieting is a problem
  • Often judges himself/herself too much by his/her body shape or weight
  • Goes on eating binges and then throw up

Your child may have an Eating Disorder. This type of problem is becoming more and more common in teenage girls and young women.

Sometimes family members do not know that their child has these problems. Your child may hide it from others. If you think that your child has this problem it is very important to get help right away. A child with these types of eating problems could have serious medical problems.

American Academy of Pediatrics (1996). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Primary Care. Elk Grove Village, Illinois: Author.

Adapted in part from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Fourth Edition (1994).

AACAP Facts for Families
(April 8, 2004)

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