Eating disorders and disordered eating are not contemporary social issues. 

It is documented that Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian cultures practised bingeing and purging. 

In the 1200s/1300s the practice of self-starvation was associated with religion. Western Christianity saw 'miraculous maids' with their 'holy anorexia' which was considered to be a supernatural phenomenon. Throughout the centuries these women were socially held in high esteem until the attitude of the Churches changed and women with 'holy anorexia' were killed for their practice.  

The works of Richard Morton, 'Phtisiologia: a Treatise on Consumption' in 1689, is credited with being the first medical acknowledgement of anorexia nervosa. Morton referred to the condition as 'nervous consumption'.  

In 1873, Sir William Gull, a physician to Queen Victoria, coined the term anorexia nervosa.

America has made a contribution to the history of eating disorders. In 1918, Lulu Hunt introduced 'calorie' into the home and the first photograph of a girl suffering with anorexia nervosa was published in an issue of the New England Journal of Medicine in 1932. 

The term bulimerexia was coined by American Marlene Boskind Lodahl in the late 1960's which later became bulimia nervosa following the description of bulimia in 1979 by Gerald Russell, a British psychiatrist. 

In 1997, Dr Steven Bratman coined the term orthorexia nervosa, a condition characterised by the eating of only very healthy foods.