Youngest, Oldest, Earliest Cases of Eating Disorders

What are the youngest and oldest (age-wise) recorded cases of eating disorders? And what is the earliest (history-wise) recorded case of an eating disorder? I’ve done much searching and can’t find any answers.


In terms of age, it might depend on how you define “eating disorder.” It’s common for young, severely neglected children to develop habits of hoarding and/or gorging on food, which they may maintain for a while even after being adopted into families where food is plentiful and freely provided.

I don’t have an exact answer for your question, but Caroline Walker Bynum wrote a fascinating book called Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women. One of her arguments is that much of the behavior that was considered saintly in medieval Europe (fasting for years at a time, appearing to subsist on nothing, etc) would today be categorized as eating disorders.