National surveys estimate that eating disorders affect 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States.

Eating disorders are serious but treatable mental and physical illnesses that can affect anyone regardless of age, sex, gender, race or socioeconomic group. Eating disorders are extremely complicated and often misunderstood. While an exact cause is unknown, researchers have identified some biological, social and psychological similarities in understanding some of the major risk factors for developing one. 

Types of eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Orthorexia, Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), Pica, Rumination Disorder, Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED), Laxative Abuse, and Compulsive Exercise.

The chance for a successful recovery increases the earlier an eating disorder is detected. The warning signs of an eating disorder vary, but there are behaviors that can be indicative of a problem (learn more here).

Take a look at a few more statistics shared by the Center for Discovery:

  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder
  • Approximately 30% of individuals who engage in binge and purge behaviors also engage in self-harm behaviors such as cutting
  • Approximately every 60 seconds, an individual dies as a direct result of an eating disorder
  • Only one in 10 individuals with an eating disorder will receive treatment
  • 13% of women over the age of 50 engage is some sort of eating disorder behavior
  • 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat
  • Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States affecting 3.5% of women and 2% of men
  • Approximately 50% of the risk for binge eating disorder is genetic
  • Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) may be more common in boys than girls
  • Approximately 10% of female college students suffer from a clinical eating disorder

Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that can affect every organ system in the body. Treatment for those with eating disorders is multifaceted and typically involves a combination of medical, psychological and nutritional counseling. According to The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), “Treatment must address the eating disorder symptoms and medical consequences, as well as psychological, biological, interpersonal, and cultural forces that contribute to or maintain the eating disorder“.

The National Eating Disorder Awareness Week campaign takes place every year in order to raise awareness about eating disorders and provide resources for those who are curious about the disorders or who are interested in seeking treatment. This year’s campaign takes place February 25-March 3rd.

The 2019 theme, Come as You Are, highlights NEDA’s goal of inclusivity and unifying the field of eating disorders. The phrase, Come as You Are, is designed to send a message to individuals at all stages of body acceptance and eating disorder recovery that their stories are valid, no matter what their background or struggles. The NEDA hopes to provide everyone with the opportunity to speak out, share their stories and connect with others.

Below are some resources that you might find helpful if you feel that you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder.

National Eating Disorder Association  

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. Their website includes several excellent resources for those interested in learning more about eating disorders.

Eating Disorder Hope

Eating Disorder Hope™ offers education, support, and inspiration to eating disorder sufferers, their loved ones, and eating disorders treatment providers.

Eating Disorders: Every Body is Beautiful

This website provides hundreds of articles and videos about eating disorders.

Seek to understand more about eating disorders, promote body acceptance, and strengthen recovery efforts by participating in this upcoming NEDAwareness Week just “as you are, not as you think you should be”.