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How Do People Get Eating Disorders

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Bipoc Eating Disorder Statistics

An Eating Disorder Specialist Explains How Trauma Creates Food Disorders
  • BIPOC are significantly less likely than white people to have been asked by a doctor about eating disorder symptoms.3
  • BIPOC with eating disorders are half as likely to be diagnosed or to receive treatment.2
  • Black people are less likely to be diagnosed with anorexia than white people but may experience the condition for a longer period of time.4
  • Black teenagers are 50% more likely than white teenagers to exhibit bulimic behavior, such as binge-eating and purging.3
  • Hispanic people are significantly more likely to suffer from bulimia nervosa than their non-Hispanic peers.3
  • Asian American college students report higher rates of restriction compared with their white peers and higher rates of purging, muscle building, and cognitive restraint than their white or non-Asian, BIPOC peers.5
  • Asian American college students report higher levels of body dissatisfaction and negative attitudes toward obesity than their non-Asian, BIPOC peers.5

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Being self-critical often goes along with many other symptoms of eating disorders, but it won’t help to motivate you or help you in recovery. Instead, being overly critical of yourself can increase feelings of shame and negative emotions you may experience, exacerbating an already difficult situation. Work to stay positive and use affirmation exercises to help combat self-critical thoughts.

What Forms Of Treatment Are Effective For Bulimia Nervosa

Most uncomplicated cases of bulimia nervosa can be treated on an outpatient basis although inpatient treatment is occasionally indicated. The best psychological treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which involves self-monitoring of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the eating disorder. Therapy is focused on normalizing eating behavior and identifying environmental triggers and irrational thoughts or feeling states that precipitate bingeing or purging. Patients are taught to challenge irrational beliefs about weight and self-esteem. Several medications have also been shown to be effective in decreasing bingeing and purging behaviors in bulimia.

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Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Hopefully, you have a wonderful treatment team in place that you can call for help and support, no questions asked. But are you also including your family and friends and giving them a chance to support you in recovery? Asking for help can be a daily process and may require you to ask for specific things that they can help you with.

Athletes Eating Disorder Statistics

By Andrea Wachter, LMFT 3 Comments
  • Athletes report higher rates of excessive exercise than nonathletes.14
  • Athletes are more likely to screen positive for an eating disorder than nonathletes, but percentages across all probable eating disorder diagnoses are similar.14
  • Athletes may be less likely to seek treatment for an eating disorder due to stigma, accessibility, and sportspecific barriers.14

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General Eating Disorder Statistics

  • Eating disorders affect at least 9% of the population worldwide.1
  • 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime.2
  • Less than 6% of people with eating disorders are medically diagnosed as underweight.1
  • 28-74% of risk for eating disorders is through genetic heritability.1
  • Eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid overdose.1
  • 10,200 deaths each year are the direct result of an eating disorderthats one death every 52 minutes.2
  • About 26% of people with eating disorders attempt suicide.1
  • The economic cost of eating disorders is $64.7 billion every year.2

How Do Eating Disorders Affect Health And Emotions

Eating disorders can cause serious problems throughout the body.

Anorexia can lead to health problems caused by undernutrition and low body weight, such as:

  • low blood pressure
  • feeling tired, weak, dizzy, or faint
  • constipation and bloating

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What Are The Types Of Eating Disorders

Common types of eating disorders include

  • Binge-eating, which is out-of-control eating. People with binge-eating disorder keep eating even after they are full. They often eat until they feel very uncomfortable. Afterward, they usually have feelings of guilt, shame, and distress. Eating too much too often can lead to weight gain and obesity. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S.
  • Bulimia nervosa. People with bulimia nervosa also have periods of binge-eating. But afterwards, they purge, by making themselves throw up or using laxatives. They may also over-exercise or fast. People with bulimia nervosa may be slightly underweight, normal weight, or overweight.
  • Anorexia nervosa. People with anorexia nervosa avoid food, severely restrict food, or eat very small quantities of only certain foods. They may see themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. Anorexia nervosa is the least common of the three eating disorders, but it is often the most serious. It has the highest death rate of any mental disorder.

What If I Have An Eating Disorder

Developing an Eating Disorder

If you think you may have an eating disorder:

Tell someone. Tell a parent, teacher, counselor, or an adult you trust. Let them know what you’re going through. Ask them to help.

Get help early. When an eating disorder is caught early, a person has a better chance of recovery. Make an appointment with your doctor or an eating disorders specialist.

Go to all appointments. Treatment takes time and effort. Work hard to learn about yourself and your emotions. Ask questions any time you have them.

Be patient with yourself. There’s so much to learn, and change happens a little at a time. Take care of yourself and be with people who support you.

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How To Know If You Struggle With Body Image Issues That You Manage Through Food

Its common that people who struggle with body image issues tie their emotions and sense of self-worth to their weight, as well as to eating. People with eating disorders tend to associate food and fullness with shame or guilt, and they often associate purging, restricting, and hunger with self-control or virtue. This mindset can lead to excessive dieting, restriction, and/or bingeing: behaviors that often precede or cause an eating disorder.

Body image issues are all too common. By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape, and 40-60% of girls ages 6-12 are worried about gaining weight. Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.

What Is Body Image

The concept of body image is a rather old one and has been in vogue for times unknown. However, it is only in recent times that the concept has attained a lot of importance and public attention. Body image is a phenomenon that indicates the pattern and the mindset that a person has towards his or her own body. It is the perception of the person of his or her own body and the way he or she feels he or she looks. Body image is the idea a person makes of his or her appearance when he or she looks into the mirror. Body Image can be of two types3:

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How Are Eating Disorders Diagnosed

Health care providers and mental health professionals diagnose eating disorders based on history, symptoms, thought patterns, eating behaviors, and an exam.

The doctor will check weight and height and compare these to previous measurements on growth charts. The doctor may order tests to see if there is another reason for the eating problems and to check for problems caused by the eating disorder.

Types Of Eating Disorders

About eating disorders

The most common eating disorders are:

Anorexia. People with anorexia starve themselves out of an intense fear of becoming fat. Despite being underweight or even emaciated, they never believe theyre thin enough. In addition to restricting calories, people with anorexia may also control their weight with exercise, diet pills, or purging.

Bulimia. Bulimia involves a destructive cycle of bingeing and purging. Following an episode of out-of-control binge eating, people with bulimia take drastic steps to purge themselves of the extra calories. In order to avoid weight gain they vomit, exercise to excess, fast, or take laxatives.

Binge Eating Disorder. People with binge eating disorder compulsively overeat, rapidly consuming thousands of calories in a short period of time. Despite feelings of guilt and shame over these secret binges, they feel unable to control their behavior or stop eating even when uncomfortably full.

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Being Involved In Physical Sports

Its not uncommon for people to enjoy competitive sports. Whether its running, dancing or gymnastics doesnt matter. The pressure that comes along with needing to be great can often be daunting.

Some people will starve themselves to perform better. They feel that an extra ten pounds off their frame will improve their game. It can especially be a problem if there are others with the perfect body who seem to excel at their sport.

This poor self-image must be dealt with as it can ruin this and many other aspects of a persons life.

Did You Choose Your Eating Disorder

It is hard for people to understand that eating disorders are not a choice, they are not a lifestyle. Someone with an eating disorder is not trying to garner attention; they are not choosing to battle a life-altering mental health condition.

Eating disorders are an illness that takes control over someone as they struggle with disordered beliefs about their weight and shape, lack of self-esteem, and the constant societal emphasis placed on body image. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are only some of the eating disorders affecting someones physical and mental health and lead to severe consequences.;

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The Relationship Between Eating Disorders And Body Image

Anorexia is an eating disorder thats directly linked to body image. People who suffer from anorexia have body dysmorphia: a body image thats overwhelmingly negative and often distorted. They see themselves as overweight, even when theyre dangerously thin. They may refuse to eat, causing them to lose large, unhealthy, and sometimes even lethal amounts of weight.

People who suffer from bulimia nervosa also tend to have a negative and distorted body image; they eat excessive quantities, then purge their bodies of the food and calories they fear.

Its difficult to untangle body image from food because a negative body image generally entails an intense focus on body weight and shape, as opposed to strength and capability. Because of this, people with a negative body image are at risk of developing an unhealthy relationship to food; a relationship that prioritizes weight loss over health and wellness.

Recognizing Common Eating Disorders

Getting Your Period Back | Eating Disorder Recovery

According to the Hull Institute of Lifestyle Management, the four most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating and orthorexia. Anorexia is characterized by the extreme restriction of food intake, often to the point of starvation. Anorexics typically conceal their condition by pretending to eat or by avoiding situations where food is present. They have a distorted body image and perceive themselves as fat or overweight even if they are dramatically underweight.

In stark contrast, binge eaters use food as a source of comfort, consuming large amounts of unhealthy foods in an attempt to reduce their stress, loneliness or insecurities. Binge eating often leads to obesity, which only exacerbates any underlying issues.

Sufferers of bulimia nervosa typically engage in binge eating followed by induced vomiting to rid themselves of the food they just consumed. This is one of the most dangerous eating disorders, as it places enormous amounts of stress on the body.Orthorexia is characterized by a compulsive desire to limit consumption to a few foods predetermined to be acceptable. This may manifest as an obsession with eating only organic foods or avoiding all forms of some foods, such as dietary fats, grains or meat. Orthorexia is very destructive when the list of acceptable foods is so limited that it does not contain all of the nutrients necessary to sustain life.

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Insecure Attachment As A Risk Factor For Developing Eating Disorders

Inscure attachment is a key risk factor for the development of eating disorder . A recent Netflix-produced drama demonstrates the role of disturbed attachment as a contributing factor to the life of a girl suffering anorexia.

Attachment is an inborn system that motivates an infant to seek proximity to a caregiver, especially in dangerous and uncertain situations . People who possess a stable sense of attachment security generally feel safe and worthy, hold an optimistic and hopeful outlook on life, and have an increased capacity for emotion regulation. A sense of felt security provides confidence that one is worthy of others love and that significant others will be responsive/supportive when needed.

An insecurely attached individual doubts the availability and supports of others and worries about ones social value. Consequently, they adopt different strategies for dealing with threats and negative emotions. These insecure patterns of behaviors are known as defensive avoidance and anxious attachment .

Fortunately, research shows that a persons attachment system, and sense of security, can be changed for the better . For example, a relationship partner who acts as a reliable security figure can restore a sense of felt-security and help the person function more securely.

What An Eating Disorder Is Not

With all the current fuss about skinny celebrities, it is tempting to regard an eating disorder as vanity, weak willpower, attention seeking behaviour or even just a phase.; Eating disorders are complex mental-health problems which begin very simply, with a wish to be a little thinner and more attractive. However they morph over time into something more sinister.; Having said this, many people with eating disorders are not mentally ill, they are often high-functioning, sensitive, intelligent people. Many live normal lives, have normal relationships and do not have any other emotional problems.

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Social Media And Eating Disorders

The presence of social media is impossible to escape these days. Keeping up with multiple accounts can become exhausting. For some, reflections fed back from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat can often reinforce existing feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness as well as lead to increased isolation. On the other end of the spectrum, online interaction can allow sufferers of all mental health difficulties to develop a voice and feel supported. Social media can be of great comfort to some people with eating disorders by giving them a connection to others who understand and can relate to their struggles.

In 2014, a research team from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine analyzed 1,765 American adults aged 19 and 32 years old. They asked the participants to answer a series of questionnaires to describe their social media usage and also to determine their risk of developing eating disordered symptoms. Their findings revealed that the subjects who spent the most time engaged with social media each day had 2.2 times the risk of developing eating disorders. Additionally, those who most frequently checked their social media feeds weekly carried 2.6 times the risk.

How Do I Know If I Need Inpatient Treatment

Eating Disorders

If you think you have an eating disorder, if your symptoms have persisted or worsened despite attempts at outpatient treatment, or if you feel constantly preoccupied by thoughts of food and weight, then a good place to start is with a comprehensive evaluation in our Consultation Clinic.;To safely provide the best possible care during the COVID pandemic, we have expanded our outpatient telemedicine services to include remote clinical consultation and outpatient visits with our eating disorders doctors by videolink across multiple states. Video visits allow patients to connect face-to-face in real time without leaving their home by using their smartphone, tablet or computer. Virtual connections are secure and HIPAA compliant.

You will be seen by a psychiatrist who will perform a thorough review of your history and symptoms, medical tests and past treatment. We recommend you forward any past treatment records ahead of your appointment for the doctor to review. Whenever possible we ask that you attend the consultation with a close family member or significant other, since we believe family support and involvement is very important when you are struggling with an eating disorder. The doctor will also be interested in any medical or psychiatric problems you may have besides the eating disorder.

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How Can I Participate In Research

Clinical research is medical research that involves people like you. People volunteer to participate in carefully conducted investigations that ultimately uncover better ways to treat, prevent, diagnose, and understand human disease. Clinical research includes clinical research trials that test new treatments and therapies as well as long-term natural history studies, which provide valuable information about how disease and health progress.

Please Note:

More Information About Eating Disorders

eMentalHealth.caInformation and resource links on eating disorders in children, youth and adults; includes a brief screening tool, helpful information and ideas for parents, and help finding services in your area.

Kids Help PhoneYouth friendly information, links and tips on what to do to help yourself or a friend.

Kelty Eating Disorders Information from the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre, affiliated with the BC Centres for Excellence in Eating Disorders. The website includes personal stories, facts about eating disorders, treatments, healthy living and recovery.

NEDA National Eating Disorders Association The website offers a variety of resources, including a very thorough Parent Toolkit . While some of the information is specific to the US, most of it would be helpful to parents anywhere, including understanding the disorder and details of treatment approaches and regimens.


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Questions To Ask Your Doctor

Asking questions and providing information to your doctor or;health care provider can improve your care. Talking with your doctor builds trust and leads to better results, quality, safety, and satisfaction. Visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website for tips at

More information about finding a health care provider or treatment for mental disorders is available on our Finding Help for Mental Illness webpage, available at .

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