Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (ED NOS) is as real as Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa.
ED NOS is diagnosed when an individual does not quite meet the criteria for Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa, yet has disordered eating behavior. For instance, ED NOS might be diagnosed if a teen girl is significantly underweight, but has not stopped having menstruation. Or a young woman might be diagnosed with ED NOS if she has been engaging in binge-eating and purging behaviors for more than three months, but she only does it on average once a week.
Individuals who compulsively overeat are also diagnosed with ED NOS.
Despite the lack of attention the media and even many mental health professionals give individuals with ED NOS, it is a real issue. It's likely that more individuals suffer from ED NOS than from Anorexia Nervosa and/or Bulimia Nervosa.
What lies at the core of disordered eating is often similar whether the individual starves herself, binge-eats and purges, or overeats.
In the end it doesn't really matter WHAT diagnosis the individual with disordered eating has. It matters more that the individual needs help and that she is hurting.
If you know someone with ED NOS, please take their issues and concerns as seriously as you would with an individual that has Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa.