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How Many People Suffer From Eating Disorders

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How Dangerous Are Eating Disorders

Why are so many women who suffer from eating disorders overlooked? | GMA
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported the following eating disorder statistics:
  • 5-10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease and 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years.
  • Anorexia nervosa has the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness .
  • The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15-24 years old.
  • Without treatment, up to 20% of people with serious eating disorders die. With treatment, the mortality rate falls to 2-3%.

Prevalence Of Eating Disorders In Adolescents

  • Based on diagnostic interview data from National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement , Figure 3 shows the lifetime prevalence of eating disorders among U.S. adolescents aged 13 to 18 years.2
  • The lifetime prevalence of eating disorders was 2.7%.
  • Eating disorders were more than twice as prevalent among females than males .
  • Prevalence increased modestly with age.
  • In the NCS-A, eating disorders included anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.

Figure 3

Lifetime Prevalence of Eating Disorders Among U.S. Adolescents


Children & Young Adults Eating Disorder Statistics

  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.16
  • 81% of 10 year old children are afraid of being fat.17
  • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are sometimes or very often on diets.18
  • 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives.19
  • In a college campus survey, 91% of the women admitted to controlling their weight through dieting.20

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It Is One Of The Most Common Illnesses Among Teens

Though it has been found that older age groups are experiencing an incline in eating disorder diagnoses, young adults and teenagers are the most likely to develop and suffer from anorexia. In fact, anorexia is the third most common illness experienced among teens. Anywhere from 1-5 percent of all females age 15-22 will develop anorexia, with an average onset age of 17. This can be associated with the cultural and societal pressures associated with fitting in, social media, and low self-esteem.

Eating Disorders And Covid

The Problem
  • 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.

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Eating Disorders And Income Education And Ethnicity

  • Most people with eating disorders have similar households incomes and education levels as the general population . ion 2020a).
  • Eating disorders occur in all ethnicities, nationalities and cultural backgrounds .
  • A 2019 review found that at any one-time prevalence of eating disorders is 4.6% in America, 2.2% in Europe and 3.5% in Asia .

How Should People With Eating Disorders Seek Help

The first port of call for a sufferer should always be their making an appointment with their GP. The Beat Helpline is available for support and information, and can give people suggestions for how to approach their doctor. After seeking advice from your GP, it can be useful to search Beats HelpFinder to find specialised eating disorder help near you.

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Eating Disorder Statistics Worldwide

  • Global eating disorder prevalence increased from 3.4% to 7.8% between 2000 and 2018.
  • 70 million people internationally live with eating disorders.
  • Japan has the highest prevalence of eating disorders in Asia, followed by Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea.
  • Austria had the highest rate of prevalence in Europe at 1.55% as of 2012.
  • Almost half of all Americans know someone with an eating disorder.

At What Age Do People Develop Eating Disorders

How COVID-19 is impacting people who suffer from eating disorders | Your Morning

Although many eating disorders develop during adolescence, it is not at all unusual for people to develop eating disorders earlier or later in life. In fact, we are aware of cases of anorexia in children as young as 6 and some research reports cases developing in women in their 70s. Outside of the stereotypical age bracket, people are less likely to be appropriately diagnosed due to a lack of understanding and awareness of eating disorders in these age groups.

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Recovery From Eating Disorders Statistics & Facts

Despite the bleak facts above, the important truth to cling to is that people recover from eating disorders and live fulfilling lives every day. While recovery is a challenging road, and will never be linear, it is absolutely possible to achieve.

  • Among the 21% of individuals that experience full recovery, 94% continued to maintain that recovery 2 years after treatment .
  • 50% of patients with anorexia nervosa make a full recovery .
  • Studies show that, despite initial follow-up results indicating low rates of recovery, continued symptom improvement and meaningful recovery are possible in anorexia nervosa beyond the first decade of follow-up .

People With Disabilities Eating Disorder Statistics

  • Women with physical disabilities are more likely to develop eating disorders.9
  • 20-30% of adults with eating disorders also have autism.10
  • 3-10% of children and young people with eating disorders also have autism.10
  • 20% of women with anorexia have high levels of autistic traits. There is some evidence that these women benefit the least from current eating disorder treatment models.10
  • ADHD is the most commonly missed diagnosis in relation to disordered eating.11

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Overview Of Eating Disorders Today

  • The number of people in Australia with an eating disorder at any given time is estimated to be around 1 million, or approximately 4% of the population .
  • Eating disorders, when combined with disordered eating together, are estimated to affect 16.3% of the Australian population .
  • Binge Eating Disorder and Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders are the most common eating disorders, affecting approximately 6% and 5%, of the total population respectively, while Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa each occur in below 1% of the general population .
  • Lifetime prevalence for eating disorders is approximately 9% of the Australian population .
  • A recent review found that worldwide, lifetime prevalence of eating disorders was 8.4% for women and 2.2% for men. The results also showed that the prevalence has been increasing over time .

Causes Of Eating Disorders

The Problem

In the field of eating disorders, we like to say genetics loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger. Studies suggest up to 75% of eating disorders are genetically heritable conditions just like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. The trigger that fires the eating disorder behavior come from a variety of sources including but limited to:

  • Dieting to look better
  • Using food, exercise, purging and restriction as forms of self-medicating
  • Major life transitions like puberty, entering high school or college or major losses or trauma
  • Family problems

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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 Disorder Statistics Show That Anorexia Nervosa Bulimia Nervosa Binge Eating Disorder And Other Eating Disorders Affect Thousands Of Americans Each Year

For the public to have an accurate understanding of eating disorder statistics, clinical studies must be conducted often to assess the prevalence of eating disorders in changing populations. This page aims to depict the current state of eating disorders in America using the most accurate eating disorder facts and statistics available. As eating disorder research continues to develop, the information listed on this page may change.

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Statistics Of Eating Disorders Due To Media

Beyond the beliefs espoused themselves that send a tangential message that appearance = worth are the more sinister media accounts that directly teach children and teens how to engage in disordered eating and exercise behaviors. These accounts and forums present eating disorder behaviors as something to be proud of and are dangerous and predatory.

Research has learned the following about the relationship between media, body image, and eating disorders:

Binge Eating Disorder Statistics

Eating Disorders Documentary

Binge-eating disorder is one of the most common eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating without the use of any inappropriate compensatory behaviors.

Binge-eating disorder is highly comorbid with obesity and is associated with several health risks, including Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. The disorder is also associated with marked distress and impairment in functioning.

Below are some critical facts and statistics for binge-eating disorder:

  • The lifetime prevalence of binge-eating disorder for females ranges from 2.5%-4.5% and for men ranges from 1%-3%41Erskine HE, Whiteford HA. Epidemiology of binge eating disorder. Current opinion in psychiatry. 2018.
  • In some samples, binge-eating disorder is more prevalent in Hispanic and black individuals than in white individuals42Erskine HE, Whiteford HA. Epidemiology of binge eating disorder. Current opinion in psychiatry. 2018.
  • Around 15% of people with binge-eating disorder attempt suicide43Pc.gov.au. 2020. Paying The Price: The Economic And Social Impact Of Eating Disorders In Australia. Available at: .
  • The prevalence of binge-eating disorder is around 5% in community samples of obese individuals and approximately 30% in treatment-seeking samples of obese individuals45Keski-Rahkonen A, Raevuori A, Hoek HW. Epidemiology of eating disorders: an update. Annual Review of Eating Disorders: CRC Press 2018:66-76.
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    General Statistics On Eating Disorders

    • Eating disorders are a daily struggle for 10 million females and 1 million males in the United States.
    • Four out of ten individuals have either personally experienced an eating disorder or know someone who has.

    Over a lifetime, the following percentages of women and men will experience an eating disorder:

    Eating Disorders And Aboriginal And Torres Straight Islander People

    • Though research is limited, it has been estimated that eating disorders incidence is much higher in Indigenous populations with estimates that up to 27% are affected .
    • A recent research study found that 28% of Indigenous high school students have an eating disorder compared to 22% of other Australian teens .
    • Binge eating disorders are as common, if not more common, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth .
    • Research suggests that 30% of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander young people are extremely or very concerned about their body image .

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    Bipoc* Eating Disorder Statistics

    * BIPOC refers to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color

    • 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

    Public Perception Of Eating Disorders

    Petition · To The Bone dangerously depicts life endangering content ...

    In spite of the risks of eating disorders, many people feel like the disease is not as serious as it is. In fact, many Americans think eating disorders are simply a cry for attention. Others think that whether someone wants to lose weight or wants to remain skinny is a personal choice and all that has to be done to remedy the situation is to start eating normally. When dating, some people agreed that a partner with an eating disorder would be more attractive, and others stated they wouldnt date someone with a mental illness but would date someone with an eating disorder.

    There are also many misconceptions about the treatment and recovery of eating disorders. One of the most common responses to someone with an eating disorder is just eat something. Also, many people think once a person with an eating disorder begins to gain weight or gets to a normal weight then he or she is cured.

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    What Can I Do About It

    Its very important to get help for an eating disorder because binging, purging and/or severely limiting how much food you eat can cause a lot of serious health problems. But eating disorders are very treatable and many people recover with treatment. Treatment for an eating disorder often includes support from a few different professionals. Regular medical check-ups are also important to treat physical health problems.

    What Is The Lifetime Prevalence Of Bulimia Nervosa

    The lifetime prevalence of bulimia nervosa is estimated to be around 1.21% for men and 2.59% for women56Bagaric, M., Touyz, S., Heriseanu, A., Conti, J., & Hay, P. . Are bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder increasing? Results of a populationbased study of lifetime prevalence and lifetime prevalence by age in South Australia. European Eating Disorders Review, 28, 260-268.

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    What Types Of Eating Disorders Are There

    After reading the statistics of eating disorders in Canada, you may be flooded with questions . Eating disorders are mental health disorders. There are several different kinds of eating disorders, including bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorders. Symptoms of eating disorders include:

    • Mood is decided by the number on a scale
    • Obsession with caloric intake, weight, food, and body image
    • Secretive eating
    • Lying about eating
    • Feeling ashamed or guilty about eating

    Do you recognize these symptoms in yourself? Have you ever wondered how you can free yourself from disordered eating? The first step is to reach out for help. Here are some resources you can connect with that may be able to help you break free:

    • The National Eating Disorder Information Centre: /
    • The Canadian Mental Health Association: /
    • List of treatment centres:

    Please feel free to share your victories and struggles concerning eating disorders. You can do so by leaving a comment on this post.


    People In Larger Bodies Eating Disorder Statistics

    Myths and Misperceptions about Eating Disorders | Retro Report
    • Less than 6% of people with eating disorders are medically diagnosed as underweight.1
    • Larger body size is both a risk factor for developing an eating disorder and a common outcome for people who struggle with bulimia and binge eating disorder.12
    • People in larger bodies are half as likely as those at a normal weight or underweight to be diagnosed with an eating disorder.13

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    Eating Disorders Among Students

    Amidst the stress of school, peers and social media, many students struggle to maintain a healthy body image and eating habits. The pressure to be thin or to strive to achieve the ideal body type causes some students to develop eating disorders.

    Current statistics on eating disorders in college students and among high school students include:

    • An estimated 11 percent of high school students were diagnosed with an eating disorder, according to a 10-year study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
    • According to the National Eating Disorders Association, eating disorders typically develop between the ages of 18 and 21. Many college students are between these ages.
    • A 2015 survey of college students reported that transgender students were more likely to report being diagnosed with eating disorders than any other student demographic
    • A national study of colleges found that among sexual minority students, 3.5 percent of women and 2.1 percent of men struggled with eating disorders
    • One study of more than 2,000 university students found that 3.6 percent of male students had positive screenings for eating disorders
    • Among college-aged women, up to 19 percent struggle with bulimia

    Lgbtq+ Eating Disorder Statistics

    • Gay men are seven times more likely to report binge-eating and twelve times more likely to report purging than heterosexual men.6
    • Gay and bisexual boys are significantly more likely to fast, vomit, or take laxatives or diet pills to control their weight.6
    • Transgender college students report experiencing disordered eating at approximately four times the rate of their cisgender classmates.7
    • 32% of transgender people report using their eating disorder to modify their body without hormones.8
    • 56% of transgender people with eating disorders believe their disorder is not related to their physical body.8
    • Gender dysphoria and body dissatisfaction in transgender people is often cited as a key link to eating disorders.7
    • Non-binary people may restrict their eating to appear thin, consistent with the common stereotype of androgynous people in popular culture.7

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    Eating Disorders Often Start Young

    Statistics show that not only are more women impacted by disordered eating, but recent studies have found that girls as young as 5 and 6 experienced patterned thinking that could lead to an eating disorder condition.

    • 42 percent of girls in the 1st through 3rd grade claim they want to be thinner.
    • 81 percent of children who are only 10 years old say they are afraid of being fat.
    • 35-57 percent of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, consume diet pills or laxatives or induce themselves to vomit.

    Often, these issues continue into young adulthood. In a survey conducted on a college campus, 91 percent of the women interviewed claimed that they control their weight through dieting.

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