Despite centuries of bizarre and unusual eating habits around the world, only recently have eating problems been considered mental disorders. Studies of etiology and treatment of eating disorders have focused on physiological mechanisms and their associated biological consequences. Over the last quarter century, mental health professionals have begun to see that many factors that underlie other major childhood disorders significantly influence early feeding and eating disorders. What is peculiar about eating disorders is thaty they are linked to western culture, where food is plentiful and physical appearance is highly valued: in western society, third most common illness in adolescent females. Beginning around age 9, girls are more anxious than boys about losing weight. Most important impact on fundamental biological process is early parent- child relationship. Next most significant developmental landmark is entering school with its pressure to conform to perceptions of desirable body type. Continuum of eating pathology ranges from dieting to clinical syndromes across all developmental periods.