Eating Disorder Statistics
Eating disorders are severe illnesses that will affect tens of millions of Americans at some point over the course of their lifetimes. While our society harbors various myths surrounding these illnesses, it is important to note that eating disorders can affect individuals of any and all backgrounds. Previously, eating disorder specialists were unable to pin down a singular cause behind the development of eating disorders. However, they now agree that these issues do not possess one singular origin, rather, it is a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors that may potentially increase someone’s risk of developing one.
Just How Common are Eating Disorders?
Over the years, researchers have looked into various aspects of eating disorders, and have come out with various helpful statistics. One such study showed that when following a group of 496 adolescent girls from when they were 12 until they were 20, they found that 5.2% of the subjects met the DSM-5 criteria for binge eating disorder, bulimia, or anorexia. They also found that when they included nonspecific eating disorder symptoms in their evaluations, a total of 13.2% of the girls had dealt with an eating disorder (according to the DSM-5) by the time they turned 20.
Another study found that males make up about 25% of all individuals suffering from anorexia; unfortunately, they also have a higher risk of passing away from the disease, partially because they tend to be diagnosed later due to societal biases and stigma surrounding men having eating disorders. Yet another study found that subclinical eating disorder behaviors such as purging, fasting, laxative abuse, and binge eating are almost as common in men as they are in women.
Eating Disorders in the LGBTQIA+ Community
The National Eating Disorders Association also compiled statistics on eating disorders in the LGBTQIA+ community. They found that, unfortunately, transgender people experience a significantly higher rate of eating disorders than their cisgender peers. And when compared to data collected on heterosexual individuals, rates of purging and binge eating were higher in people who identified as bisexual, gay, lesbian, or “mostly heterosexual.” 42% of men who have eating disorders identify as gay, pointing to a potential increase in eating disorder-related behavior and disturbed body images in the gay community.
The National Eating Disorders Association also presented studies linking eating disorders to other issues. For instance, two-thirds of individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa displayed signs of an anxiety disorder many years before their eating disorder began. A study of over 2400 individuals who had been hospitalized for eating disorders found that 97% had at least one co-occurring condition, such as mood disorders and anxiety disorders. Furthermore, about 25% of individuals suffering from an eating disorder also present with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Finally, traits that are considered obsessive-compulsive in childhood, such as concern about making mistakes, having to follow rules, and perfectionism, were far more commonly seen in women who developed eating disorders down the line as opposed to those who did not.
Where to Find Help
While all types of eating disorders may lead to serious mental and physical side effects, they are thankfully treatable. And one’s treatment plan will depend on his or her individual situation. There also are several hotlines you can contact if you are worried about yourself or a loved one. Lastly, we are here to help you at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You may contact us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.