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How Many People Have Eating Disorders

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Eating Disorders In Women

An Eating Disorder Specialist Explains How Trauma Creates Food Disorders

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders are more prevalent among women than men. Approximately 20 million American women experience eating disorders at some point in their lives.

Statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reveal that some of the most common eating disorders in women include:

  • Anorexia nervosa: Up to 95 percent of people who have anorexia are female.
  • Bulimia nervosa: Approximately 80 percent of people with bulimia are women.
  • Binge eating disorder: Rates of binge eating disorder are approximately the same among men and women.

How Many People Receive Treatment For An Eating Disorder

  • Only 1 in 10 people with eating disorders receive treatment. According to eating disorders statistics, about 80% of the girls/women who have accessed care for their eating disorders do not get the intensity of treatment they need to stay inrecovery .
  • Treatment of an eating disorder in the US ranges from $500 per day to $2,800 per day. The average cost for a month of inpatient treatment is $30,000,and it is estimated that individuals with eating disorders need anywhere from 3 to6 months of inpatient care.

How To Get Help For An Eating Disorder

If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, treatment is available. For immediate assistance, or help in evaluating your options, you can:

  • Text the National Eating Disorders Association acronym NEDA to to instantly connect with a trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line or .
  • Use the SAMHSA behavioral health treatment locator and filter the results by zip code, types of treatment and practicing medical professionals

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Read On For More Statistics About Eating Disorders

As you can see, eating disorders impact many people from all walks of life. Know that there is help for those who are struggling with disordered eating. If you or someone you love needs support, turn to Center for Discovery. Get in touch with us today.

Barbara Spanjers, MS MFT, is a therapist and wellness coach who helps people feel more attuned with food and their body. Learn more .

Eating Disorders And Lgbtiqa+ Communities

How can we bring more awareness to eating disorders and educate the ...
  • People who are LGBTIQA+ are at a greater risk for disordered eating behaviours .
  • Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens may be at higher risk of binge eating than their heterosexual peers .
  • A review from the United States found that lifetime prevalence for eating disorders is higher among sexual minority adults compared with cisgender heterosexual adults however, more detailed research is required .

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Who Is Affected By Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can affect people of any age, race, gender or sexual orientation. They are often diagnosed in teenagers and young adults, but many people are first diagnosed with an eating disorder in later adulthood. Sometimes the first signs and symptoms develop at a much younger age.

I am currently 25 years old and I have had issues with my weight and my self-esteem since junior high. I was your typical, awkward preteen. Chubby, braces, glasses, acne and a sweet, yet painfully shy, personality. I was self-conscious about everything, including my weight. ~Sara

Many changes occur in our bodies during adolescence. These changes can be very difficult for some youth. Sometimes, those who are dissatisfied with their bodies will turn to disordered eating. However, there are many risk factors for eating disorders, and not everyone who is unhappy with their body will develop an eating disorder.

Some types of eating disorders are more common in women and girls than in men and boys. However, eating disorders affect people of all genders. Transgender, non-binary, and gender diverse youth report higher rates of eating disorder symptoms than cisgender youth .

The information we get about eating disorders from television, magazines or social media is not always true. For example, some people view eating disorders as a choice rather than serious biological illnesses.

Understanding The Definition Of An Eating Disorder

According to the National Alliance for Eating Disorders, theres a significant difference between disordered eating and eating disorders. Disordered eating doesnt interfere with a persons ability to function but may include irregular eating patterns as well as judgment around food or their body.

Eating disorders, however, represent a significant range of behaviors involving food and eating. They can impair your physical and mental health and make it difficult to function on a daily basis .

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Eating Disorder Statistics By Age

  • Globally, 13% of women older than 50 experience disordered eating behaviors.
  • The median age of eating disorder onset was 21 years old for binge eating disorder and 18 years old for anorexia and bulimia nervosa.
  • The lifetime prevalence of eating disorders in the U.S. was 2.7% among adolescents as of 2001-2004.
  • Of adolescents with eating disorders, the 17- to 18-year-old age group had the highest prevalence .

Researchers followed a group of 496 adolescent girls in a U.S. city over a span of eight years and found that by the age of 20:

  • More than 5% of the girls met the criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.
  • More than 13% of the girls had experienced an eating disorder when including non-specific eating disorder symptoms.

Eating Disorders Are On The Rise

EDNOS: Most Dangerous, Unheard of Eating Disorder | Nightline | ABC News

COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges to individuals with eating disorders

Approximately 24 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Moreover, eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid addiction, resulting in approximately 10,200 deaths each year.

Published April 2019 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , Prevalence of Eating Disorders over the 20002018 Period: A Systematic Literature Review has reported a rise in eating disorders worldwide. According to Marie Galmiche et al., the prevalence of eating disorders increased over the study period from 3.5% for the 20002006 period to 7.8% for the 20132018 period. The study points out that although eating disorders are traditionally considered to affect mainly women, men represent a growing proportion of individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, two of the most common eating disorders. In addition, the authors pointed out that although eating disorders were classically thought to be confined to developed Western countries, this study also highlights the high prevalence of eating disorders in Asia and developing Middle-Eastern countries.

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Common Signs That You Might Have An Eating Disorder

All the eating disorders mentioned above can present differently. For the most part, though, there are some common signs that could indicate that you may have an eating disorder.

  • You struggle to eat in front of others. It can be difficult to have a meal in social settings if youre struggling with an eating disorder. Many people feel the need to hide the food theyre eating around friends or avoid it altogether.
  • You develop rigid rules around eating. Theres a difference between a casual routine and a strict rule. If youre eliminating entire food groups, limiting intake, or generally being inflexible about what youll eat and where, that could be the sign of an eating disorder.
  • Youre exercising a lot. If you have an eating disorder, exercise can be much more than a way to stay healthy. Pay attention to whether youre obsessing over calorie tracking or working out too hard to compensate for overeating.
  • Physical symptoms are catching up with you. A lack of sufficient nutrition can damage your gastrointestinal system. Some people who have an eating disorder frequently struggle with cramps, reflux, or constipation. Dizziness, dehydration, and blood pressure fluctuations are other signs to look for.
  • Youre feeling a lot of guilt or shame. Low self-esteem is a common symptom of eating disorders. So too are guilt and shame over an inability to control your eating habits to your level of satisfaction.


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Body Image Dieting And Social Media

  • Body image has been listed in the top four concerns for young Australians from 2009-2018 with 30% concerned about body image .
  • Research shows that up to 80% of young teenage girls report a fear of becoming fat .
  • Nearly 23% of Australian women report a self over evaluation of weight and shape meaning they think they are larger than they are according to BMI .
  • It has been reported that more than 55% of Australian girls and 57% boys aged 8 to 9 years are dissatisfied with their body t .
  • Nearly half of Australian women and one third of Australian men are dissatisfied with their body .
  • Weight related teasing in children is associated with disordered eating, weight gain, binge eating, and extreme weight control measures .
  • Social media use has been linked to self-objectification, and using social media for merely 30 minutes, a day can change the way you view your own body .
  • A study of teen girls reported that social media users were significantly more likely than non-social media users to have internalized a drive for thinness and to engage in body surveillance .
  • Weight-loss dieting is a risk factor for the development of an eating disorders and. Dieting frequently precedes the onset of an eating disorder .
  • Dietary restraint influences binge-eating behaviour .
  • High frequency dieting and early onset of dieting are associated with poorer physical and mental health, more disordered eating, extreme body dissatisfaction, and more frequent general health problems .

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Why Are Eating Disorders More Common In Men

Males are often one of the least diagnosed populations of people with eating disorders. This is probably due to shame about admitting to what is wrongly assumed to be a disorder that only affects women. For this reason, the number of men with eating disorders is probably much higher than the statistics claim. Eating Disorders Statistics and Facts.

Canadian Facts And Statistics

Facts About Eating Disorders in the U.S.

Eating disorders are consistently gaining more recognition as severe mental illnesses. With more awareness, patients with eating disorders may access help before the effects of their conditions become irreversible. Here are a few facts and figures about eating disorders in Canada, from reports published between 2013 and 2016.

1. Eating disorder prevalence is higher than what is documented

  • At any particular time, between 600,000 and 990,000 Canadians fit diagnostic criteria for eating disorders.
  • About 80% of eating disorder patients are women
  • Anorexia occurs in 0.5% of the population while bulimia is at 1%

2. Anorexia and bulimia affect women more, while Binge Eating Disorder affects both genders equally

  • About 25% of women with healthy weight view themselves as obese
  • Women who are dieting are approximately 56%
  • Bulimia occurrence in women is between 1% and 4% while anorexia is at 0.5% to 4%. Binge eating for all people is at 2%.

3. Eating disorders are potentially fatal

  • Between 15% and 20% of anorexics progress to its chronic form
  • Between 10% and 15% of anorexics will die in under ten years
  • The estimated mortality rate in bulimia is 5%
  • Females aged between 15 and 24 years are 12 times more likely to die from anorexia than from other causes combined
  • On average, bulimia lasts at least eight years

4. Adolescents and young adults are at a higher risk of developing eating disorders

5. Eating disorders often co-occur with other mental illnesses.

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Risk Can Be Highly Related To Genetics

Though there can be many risk factors and considerations that increase your risk of developing an eating disorder, research has found that the largest risk may be your family history. Genetics, DNA, and family history are believed to be the largest considerations of statistics behind anorexia in factoring ones risk, with anywhere from 50-80 percent of a persons risk stemming from genetics.

How Many People Have An Eating Disorder In The Uk

We estimate that around 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder. While there have been some significant and well-designed studies conducted in the UK in recent years, overall there has not been sufficient research to draw firm conclusions about the prevalence of eating disorders in the UK.

Therefore, our estimate is based predominately on research carried out in other countries . Of course, this is not ideal, given the different social and cultural contexts and access to treatment between countries.

We will revise this estimate as new data becomes available. We are in the process of attempting to obtain unpublished data that would reduce the uncertainty in this estimate.

To calculate the most accurate estimate with the data available to us, we looked at a series of studies that investigated prevalence of eating disorders among different genders, age ranges, and diagnoses, and sought to combine these into one total. We have broken these categories down below.

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Eating Disorders In Adolescence Statistics

Adolescents are at a concerning high risk for development of eating disorders. One overarching factor that contributes to this are the beliefs being taught to children, teens, and young adults. These beliefs often tie worth, value, happiness, and success with body weight, shape, size, and appearance and are inescapable for youth, popping up on their TVs, social media, in their schools, at home, and out in the world. In addition to the messaging surrounding appearance, weight, food, exercise, and value, todays adolescent population are experiencing high levels of emotional distress through social upheaval, gun violence in schools, and the COVID-19 pandemic, to name just a few stressors. This has impacted adolescent development of mental illness, eating disorders included. Here is what we know:

Statistics: How Many People Have Eating Disorders

6 Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa:Bulimia nervosa:Males with eating disorders:What age groups are affected?:Overweight and obesity:Binge eating disorder:Eating disorders and substance abuse:What age groups are affected?:What about compulsive exercising?Subclinical eating disordersEating disorders in Western and non-Western countriesMortality and recovery rates


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Statistics On Eating Disorder Recovery

Because research on the progression of eating disorders is developing, limited, and sometimes unreliable, data exists on eating disorder recovery statistics. Further research is needed to assess recovery from eating disorders. However, one point is clear: eating disorders are treatable and recovery is possible.

Currently available statistics on long-term recovery from eating disorders include:

  • Approximately one in 10 Americans who have eating disorders get treatment
  • Sixty percent of people who struggle with eating disorders recover through treatment
  • About 80 percent of women who enroll in treatment for eating disorders do not receive sufficient care to help them recover
  • Approximately 20 percent of people who have eating disorders and enroll in treatment make partial recoveries

What If I Have 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 youâre 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. Thereâs 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 Will We Assess The Progress Being Made

The families of a person in treatment, especially parents, deserve to know how their loved one is doing in treatment. You can feel free to ask the admissions specialists how progress is judged and how their loved one is doing in the program. As an example, a structured level system that gauges progress can provide structure, and using such a level system allows people to progress through the treatment program at their own pace. Of course, even with a structured system, every client progresses at a different rate, so loved ones should be prepared for setbacks, delays, or even significant leaps forward.

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The Problem

Eating disorders are behavioral problems and the most successful modalities of treatment all focus on normalizing eating and weight control behaviors whilst managing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Increasingly, we understand eating disorders as not just psychological problems but as disorders of learning and habit. Changing established habits can feel challenging, however practice of healthy eating behavior under expert therapeutic guidance helps develop skills needed to manage anxieties regarding food, weight and shape â all of which fade over time with the gradual achievement of mastery over recovery.

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Eating Disorders And Covid

  • People with an eating disorder may be at increased risk of exacerbation of symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, including greater levels of anxiety and stress due to social isolation .
  • Initial Australian research indicates the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted eating disorders with an increase in restriction, binge eating, purging and exercise behaviours in those with eating disorders and increased restriction and binge eating in the general population .

Learn more about eating disorders and COVID-19

Early in the pandemic EDV put together a guide to COVID-19 and eating disorders.

Eating Disorder Statistics In Canada

Do you know that of all mental illnesses, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate? Unfortunately, this is a true statement. Whats more, of people who have eating disorders, 10 to 20 percent eventually die from complications.

Here are other eating disorder statistics in Canada that you may not know:

  • In 2002, of females , 1.5 percent dealt with an eating disorder.
  • This same year, Four percent of males in ninth and tenth grade reported anabolic steroid use. This demonstrates how disordered body image touches not only women, but men also.
  • 0.3 percent of adolescent females have anorexia 1 percent have bulimia.
  • Many girls as young as five are aware of dieting and weight-loss.
  • Almost 30 percent of young women in ninth and tenth grade diet.
  • Of ninth grade females, 37 percent perceived themselves to be too fat. The same is true of tenth grade girls, only in their case, 40 percent have the same perception.
  • Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness it is estimated that 10 percent of individuals with anorexia nervosa will die within 10 years of the onset of the disorder.

These statistics are taken from a NEDIC fact sheet. To read more statistics about eating disorders in Canada, click here: .

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