Eating disorders are serious conditions related to persistent eating behaviors that negatively impact a person’s health, emotions and ability to function in important areas of life.

Most eating disorders involve focusing too much on weight, body shape and food, leading to dangerous eating behaviors. These behaviors can significantly impact a body’s ability to get appropriate nutrition. Eating disorders can harm the heart, digestive system, bones, and teeth and mouth, and lead to other diseases.

Unfortunately, many people with eating disorders may not think they need treatment. If you’re worried about a loved one, urge him or her to talk to a doctor. Even if your loved one isn’t ready to acknowledge having an issue with food, you can open the door by expressing concern and a desire to listen.

Be alert for eating patterns and beliefs that may signal unhealthy behavior, as well as peer pressure that may trigger eating disorders.