THE ROLE OF COGNITIVE PROCESSES IN EATING PATHOLOGY
Eating disorders (ED) include three main categories, according to DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, APA, 1994): Anorexia Nervosa (AN),
Bulimia Nervosa (BN) and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). Eating disorders are characterised by serious disturbances in eating behaviour and overvalued attitudes about body weight and shape for selfevaluation (APA, 1994). Eating disorders occur primarily in female adolescents and young women with only approximately 10 percent of cases occurring in males (APA, 1994). Researchers propose that during the past 50 years, ED have been on the increase (Hsu, 1996; Hartley, 1998). Until recently, ED were mainly found in Western societies. However, accumulative research suggests that ED are becoming more widespread globally, especially in Japan and Hong Kong (e.g., Lee, 1993). Eating disorders are complex, serious and potentially life threatening conditions. There can be a number of health consequences involving both emotional and physical health. Eating disorders, especially AN, commonly have their onset in adolescence which is a time of rapid growth and development (APA, 1994). Eating disorders can thus seriously interfere with normal physical development. Everyday living can also be dramatically impaired affecting ability to continue school or work and socialise with family and friends.