Eating Disorder Statistics.


Statistics are incredibly hard to work with.image_statistics_how_to_lie2

One can find a statistic to prove ones point of view in most cases and for this reason I avoid working with them for the most part. However they can be useful to show general trends. Plus, I get asked for them often. So here you are!

Below is a list of statistics related to eating disorders. I will be working my way though this list providing a detailed blog report on each item.

(This list was written in 2011 and has not been updated since—i’ll get to it soon!)

“Eating Disorders”
1 in 5 women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating.

National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) guide,
Eating Disorders: Facts About Eating Disorders and the Search for Solutions

Eating Disorders affect up to 24 million Americans and 70 million individuals worldwide. The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, “Eating Disorders 101 Guide: A Summary of Issues, Statistics and Resources,” published
September 2002, revised October 2003, http://www.renfrew.org.

An estimated 10 to 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male. Carlat, D.J. Camargo. Review of Bulimia in Males. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 1997

90 % of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, The Center for Mental Health Services, offices of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

It is estimated that currently 11% of high school students have been diagnosed with an eating
disorder. ANAD Ten Year Study. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. www.anad.org

15% of young women in the US who are not diagnosed with an eating disorder display substantially
disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. Girl Power!, a public education program of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

A Study conducted by Cornell University found that 40% of male football players
surveyed engaged in some sort of disordered eating behavior. (Newsweek, 1994)

 

Anorexia

0.5 % – 3.7 % of females suffer from Anorexia Nervosa in their lifetimeNational Institute of Mental Health. 
Eating Disorders NIH Publication No. 94-3477 Rockville, MD, 1994

Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents. Public Health Service’s Office in Women’s 
Health, Eating Disorder Information Sheet, 2000.

 

Mortality in Anorexia:

A young woman with anorexia is 12 times more likely to die than other women her age without 
anorexia. Mortality in Anorexia Nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152(7), 1073-1074.

5-10% of anorexics die within ten years of onset, 18-20 percent die within twenty years of onset, and only 50% report ever being cured. American Psychiatric Association (1993), “Practice Guidelines for 
Eating Disorders.” American Journal of Psychiatry, 150 (2), pp 212-228.

20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their 
eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems. The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, “Eating 
Disorders 101 Guide: A Summary of Issues, Statistics and Resources,” published September 2002, revised October 2003, http://www.renfrew.org.

 

Bulimia
1.1 % – 4.2 % of females suffer from Bulimia Nervosa in their lifetime. National Institute of Mental Health. Eating 
Disorders NIH Publication No. 94-3477 Rockville, MD, 1994

Up to 19% of college aged women in America are bulimic. Rader Programs. www.raderprograms.com

Diet Culture

The most common behavior that will lead to an eating disorder is dieting. Natalia Zunino, Ph.D, of American
Anorexia and Bulimia Association, Inc.

Adolescent girls who diet are at 324% greater risk for obesity than those who do not diet. 
(Stice et al., 1999).
The diet and diet related industry is a 50 billion dollar a year enterprise. Garner, D.W., Wooley, S.C. (1991),
“Confronting the failure of behavioral and dietary treatments for obesity.” Clinical Psychology Review, 11, pp. 727-780.

35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or
full syndrome eating disorders. Shisslak, C.M., Crago, M., & Estes, L.S. (1995). The spectrum of eating disturbances.
International Journal of Eating Disorders, 18 (3), 209-219.

1/2 the females between the ages of 18-25 would prefer to be run over by a truck then be fat, and 2/3 surveyed would rather be mean or stupid. Gaesser, G. (1996), Big Fat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight and Your Health. New York: Fawcett Columbine.

 

Children, peers and school:outlier

51% of 9 and 10 year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet  Mellin LM, Irwin CE & Scully
S: Disordered eating characteristics in girls: A survey of middle class children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1992; 92:851-53.

42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991). Collins M.E. (1991) Body figure and preferences among
pre-adolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 199-208.

46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are
“sometimes” or “very often” on diets (Gustafson-Larson & Terry, 1992). Gustafson-Larson, A., & Terry, R.D.
(1992). Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth-grade children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 92, 818-822.

4% of boys in grades nine and ten reported anabolic steroid use in a 2002 study, showing that body preoccupation and attempts to alter one’s body are issues affecting both men and women.
Boyce, W. F. (2004). Young people in Canada: their health and well-being. Ottawa, Ontario: Health Canada.

  
1% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. 51% of 9 and 10 year old girls feel better about
themselves if they are on a diet. Mellin LM, Irwin CE & Scully S: Disordered eating characteristics in girls: A survey of middle class
children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1992; 92:851-53.

37% of girls in grade nine and 40% in grade ten perceived themselves as too fat. Even among students of normal-weight (based on BMI), 19% believed that they were too fat, and 12% of students reported attempting to lose weight.
Boyce, W. F., King, M. A. & Roche, J. (2008). Healthy Living and Healthy Weight. In Healthy Settings for Young People in Canada. Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/dca-dea/yjc/pdf/youth-jeunes-eng.pdf.

 

In a survey of adolescents in grades 7-12, 30% of girls and 25% of boys reported teasing by peers about their weight. Such teasing has been found to persist in the home as well – 29% of girls and 16% of boys reported having been teased by a family member about their weight.
Eisenberg, M. E. & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2003). Associations of Weight-Based Teasing and Emotional Well-Being Among Adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 157(6), 733-738.

 

Body-based teasing can have a serious impact on girls’ attitudes and behaviors. Girls who reported teasing by family members were 1.5 times more likely to engage in binge-eating and extreme weight control behaviors five years later.
Neumark-Sztainer, D. R., Wall, M. M., Haines, J. I., Story, M. T., Sherwood, N. E., van den Berg, P. A. (2007). Shared Risk and Protective Factors for Overweight and Disordered Eating in Adolescents. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 33(5), 359-369.

80% of all children have been on a diet by the time that they have reached the fourth grade. Time Magazine

In a study of 14 – 15 year old adolescents, girls who engaged in strict dieting practices:
-Were 18 times more likely to develop an ED within six months than non-dieters
-Had almost a 20% chance of developing an ED within one year
Girls who dieted moderately were five times more likely to develop an ED within 6 months than non-dieters.
Patton, G. C., Selzer, R., Coffey, C., Carlin, J. B. & Wolfe, R. (1999). Onset of adolescent eating disorders: population based cohort study over 3 years. British Medical Journal, 318, 765-768.

In childhood (5-12 years), the ratio of girls to boys diagnosed with AN or BN is 5:1, whereas in adolescents and adults, the ratio is much larger – 10 females to every male.
Public Health Agency of Canada. Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program, 2003 Results.
Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cpsp-pcsp03/page6-eng.php

91 % of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting,
22% dieted “often” or “always.” Kurth CL, Krahn DD, Nairn K & Drewnowski A: The severity of dieting and bingeing behaviors in
college women: Interview validation of survey data. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 1995; 29(3):211-25.

The average woman is 5”4’ and weighs 140 pounds. The average model is 5”11’ and weighs 117
pounds. Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women. Smolak L. (1996). National Eating
Disorders Association/Next Door Neighbors puppet guide book.

 

 

Binge Eating Disorder:

2% – 5 % of the American population experience Binge Eating Disorder. National Institute of Mental Health.
Eating Disorders NIH Publication No. 94-3477 Rockville, MD, 1994

Men constitute 40% of those exhibiting Binge Eating Disorder. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic &
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Ed. (DSM-IV). Washington DC, 1994.

The onset of Binge Eating Disorder usually occurs during the late adolescence or in the early twenties. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Ed. Washington DC, 1994.

Lifetime prevalence of binge eating disorder is 3.5% in women, 2.0% in men February 2007 edition of Biological Psychiatry.

 

Genetics:

Genes may account for 31%-76% of the variance in Anorexia Nervosa, between 28%-83% of the variance in Bulimia Nervosa, and 17%-39% of variance in Binge Eating Disorder Kohn, M & Golden, N.H. (2001). Eating disorders in children and adolescents: epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment. Paediatric Drugs, 3 (2), 91-9.

A twin study published in the American Journal of psychiatry found that genetic factors have a significant influence on the development of Anorexia nervosa, with an estimated heritability of 58% Steiner, H., Kwan, W., Shaffer, T. G., Walker, S., Miller, S., Sagar, A., & Lock, J. (2003). Risk and protective factors for juvenile eating disorders. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 12, 38-46.

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About Tabitha Farrar

I work as Head of Marketing for a software startup in Boulder. As a recovered Anorexia sufferer, I advocate for proper understanding of eating disorders in my spare time. On that note, I wrote a book about my own journey into eating again called Love Fat.

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