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Feeding and eating disorders constitute a group of conditions in which there is a persistent disturbance of eating or associated behaviors that significantly impair an individual’s physical health or psychosocial functioning. In DSM-5 the described categories (with the exception of pica) are defined to be mutually exclusive in a given episode, based on the understanding that although they are phenotypically similar in some ways, they differ in course, prognosis, and effective treatment interventions. Compared with DSM-IV-TR, three disorders (i.e., avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, rumination disorder, pica) that were previously classified as disorders of infancy or childhood have been grouped together with the disorders of anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Binge-eating disorder is also now included as a formal diagnosis; the intent of each of these modifications is to encourage clinicians to be more specific in their codification of eating and feeding pathology.


Pica is diagnosed when the individual, aged >2, eats one or more nonnutritive, nonfood substances for a month or more and requires medical attention as a result. There is usually no specific aversion to food in general but a preferential choice to ingest substances such as clay, starch, soap, paper, or ash. The diagnosis requires the exclusion of specific culturally approved practices and has not been commonly found to be caused by a specific nutritional deficiency. Onset is most common in childhood but the disorder can occur in association with other major psychiatric conditions in adults. An association with pregnancy has been observed, but the condition is only diagnosed when medical risks are increased by the behavior.


In this condition, individuals who have no demonstrable associated gastrointestinal or other medical condition repeatedly regurgitate their food after eating and then either rechew or swallow it or spit it out. The behavior typically occurs on a daily basis and must persist for at least 1 month. Weight loss and malnutrition are common sequelae, and individuals may attempt to conceal their behavior, either by covering their mouth or through social avoidance while eating. In infancy, the onset is typically between 3 and 12 months, and the behavior may remit spontaneously, although in some it appears to be recurrent.


The cardinal feature of this disorder is avoidance or restriction of food intake, usually stemming from a lack of interest in or distaste of food and associated with weight loss, nutritional deficiency, dependency on nutritional supplementation, or marked impairment in psychosocial functioning, either alone or in combination. Culturally approved practices, such as fasting or a lack of available food, must be excluded as possible causes. The disorder is distinguished from anorexia nervosa by the presence of emotional factors, such as a fear of gaining weight and distortion of body image in the latter condition. Onset is usually in ...

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