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Eating Disorders

Eating disorders involve more than food, despite their name. It’s a severe mental health condition requiring expert medical and psychological intervention to reverse. 

Twenty million American women and ten million American men suffer from an eating disorder or had one at some point in their lives.

A wide range of psychological conditions can lead to unhealthy eating habits. The obsession might start with food, body shape, or body weight. An eating disorder can severely affect health and, if left untreated, may even lead to death. There are many symptoms associated with eating disorders. The majority, however, involve the severe restriction of food, eating binges, or excessive exercise or vomiting.

Despite the fact that eating disorders can affect anyone at any age, adolescents and young women are the most likely to be affected. Up to 13% of youth may develop an eating disorder by the time they are 20.

Behavioral symptoms of disordered eating:

  • Sudden interest in weight loss diets (e.g., keto) or specialized diets (e.g., no sugar)

  • Excessive/compulsive exercise

  • Binge eating

  • Self-induced vomiting

  • Laxative, diuretic, and/or diet pill abuse

  • Food chewing and spitting

  • Obsession with food cleanliness

  • Feeling overweight despite weight loss or

  • low body weight

  • Impulsive or irregular eating habits

  • Insulin misuse (in individuals with diabetes)

  • Noticeable distress and feelings of disgust, depression, or guilt around food

 

Eating Disorder Facts:

 

  • Eating disorders have some of the highest mortality rates of all mental illnesses.

  • In the United States, there are 10,200 deaths per year as a direct result of an eating disorder, equating to one death every 52 minutes.

  • Alcohol and substance abuse are four times more common among people with eating disorders.

  • Suicide is a major cause of mortality for individuals with eating disorders.

  • While women are more likely than men to struggle with eating disorders, all genders are impacted.

  • People of all races are affected, with BIPOC being half as likely to be diagnosed or to receive treatment.

  • People with eating disorders tend to experience symptoms for an average of six years before ever seeking treatment.

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