There are many new eating disorder terms being mentioned in the news. Among them is orthorexia, which is the compulsive adherence to severe levels of healthy eating. However, experts in the eating disorder field are often reluctant to designate discoveries in eating disorder behaviors as unique eating disorders, but instead believe that they are often a subset of another type of eating disorder.
A recent article on News Tonight discusses another type of disorder that may be designated as a new type of eating disorder. Compulsive over exercising is gaining attention as the behavior is increasingly recognized among athletes, and particularly those in certain sports. Women who specialize in aesthetic sports like cheerleading, gymnastics and figure skating may be at an increased risk for eating disorders, and specifically for behaviors like compulsive over exercising.
Eating disorders can be particularly easy for athletes to hide. Intense training schedules provide a logical explanation for a lean body, and a lean, low-calorie diet is expected among those who compete. However, for those with this particular problem, compulsive over exercising is distinctly different from a normal training schedule. Individuals who compulsively over exercise forego other responsibilities, including their job or school, in order to maintain a rigid exercise program.
It will be up to the authors of the DSM-IV to decide whether compulsive over exercising constitutes a unique eating disorder. It may be determined that purging through exercising is actually another type of bulimia or anorexia.