What is OSFED?

A person is diagnosed with Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) when they experience distress from eating disorder behaviors but they do not have an established eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder. OSFED can be life-threatening and were formerly labelled Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).

OSFED Causes

Other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED) do not have one single cause. Eating disorders typically result from a combination of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors.

Biological causes

The following biological factors can either raise or lower one's risk of developing an eating disorder:

  • Genetics
  • A family history of eating disorders
  • Temperament
  • The neurobiology that influences hunger and satiety cues

Psychological causes

A number of life experiences may influence whether an individual develops an eating disorder during their lifetime:

  • Traumatic experiences
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression, anxiety, stress
  • A perceived loss of control over one's life
  • Feelings of inadequacy or loneliness
  • Challenges with developmental milestones
  • Difficulties with changes and transitions

Sociocultural causes

Society norms and the media may contribute to the development of eating disorders for some individuals in a number of ways:

  • Pervasive messaging that thin (or muscular) bodies are the ideal
  • Normalizing/encouraging diet culture (including trends like elimination diets, juice cleanses, veganism, etc.)
  • Widespread encouragement of weight loss to support a “healthy” lifestyle

OSFED Symptoms

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders have unique and distinct characteristics and symptoms. Take a look at some of the most common OSFED warning signs.

Health Risks of OSFED

The health risks associated with Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) are numerous and varied, as these conditions can involve any number of maladaptive eating or exercise behaviors.

The health risks associated with Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) are numerous and varied, as these conditions can involve any number of maladaptive eating or exercise behaviors.

Some of the more serious health risks of OSFED include:

  • Organ failure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle loss and weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Electrolyte and chemical imbalances
  • Tooth decay and staining
  • Irregular bowel movements/constipation
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Heart disease
  • Type II diabetes mellitus and/or gallbladder disease

Due to a heightened mortality rate associated with eating disorders, eating disorders can be life-threatening. In fact, research has found a mortality rate of 5.2 percent for unspecified eating disorders. Suicide can also be a risk.

Treating OSFED

At Eating Recovery Center, we recognize that each eating disorder is unique, and that eating disorder-related behaviors and thoughts can be serious and life-interrupting even if one does not meet full criteria for anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.

We Provide Individualized Treatment for Eating Disorders

In general, eating disorder treatment for Other Specified Feeding & Eating Disorders (OSFED) at ERC is less tailored to the specific diagnosis. Instead, our experienced healthcare professionals emphasize: 

  • Medical and psychiatric stabilization
  • Interruption of maladaptive behaviors
  • Therapeutic support (examining what maintains the disordered eating)
  • Development of recovery skills

Like all patients with eating disorders, those suffering from other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED) will have an individualized treatment plan that acknowledges their distinctive recovery needs and challenges. No matter what physical, medical or emotional challenges come their way, we offer a full spectrum of care to meet the diverse recovery needs of our patients and families.

OSFED vs. EDNOS

Other specified feeding and eating disorders is a newer term replacing the term “eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS)” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The term “OSFED” may be less well-known than the names of other eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia, but OSFED is still quite common and dangerous. At times, OSFED can even be deadly. The health risks associated with OSFED are numerous and varied, stemming from a number of maladaptive eating and exercise behaviors.

Facts About OSFED

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder is the new and updated description that replaces the eating disorder category formerly called Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). The OSFED diagnosis includes people who have serious, yet treatable, eating disorders that do not fall under the diagnostic criteria for recognized eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. 

Statistics About OSFED

  • OSFED affects up to six percent of the population.
  • The mortality rate is estimated to be 5.2 percent for unspecified eating disorders.
  • Standardized Mortality Ratio (SMR) for OSFED is 1.92 (SMR is a ratio between the observed number of deaths in an study population and the number of deaths would be expected)1
  • Nearly half of OSFED patients have a comorbid mood disorder. 2
  • 1 in 10 OSFED patients have a comorbid substance abuse disorder, usually alcohol use. 2
  • Body dysmorphic disorder affects men and women almost equally, and approximately one percent of the U.S. population has BDD. (ADAA.org)

1 Arcelus, J., Mitchell, A. J., Wales, J., & Nielsen, S. (2011). Mortality rates in patients with anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders: a meta-analysis of 36 studies. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(7), 724-731.
2 Ulfvebrand, S., Birgegard, A., Norring, C., Hogdahl, L., & von Hausswolff-Juhlin, Y. (2015). Psychiatric comorbidity in women and men with eating disorders results from a large clinical database. Psychiatry Research, 230(2), 294-299.

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