Finding reliable eating disorder statistics can be tricky. Since most people who suffer from anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders take great care to hide their behavior, many experts believe the condition is underreported. In addition, eating disorders can often very greatly in severity. While some people exhibit signs of an eating disorder for a brief period, others struggle throughout their lives to control the condition.
How Common Are Eating Disorders?
Research conducted by the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry suggested that eating disorders are becoming even more of a problem in our modern society.
- Eating disorder statistics show that cases of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating have doubled since the 1960s.
- Children as young as 5 years old are expressing concern about their appearance, while children as young as 7 have been formally diagnosed with eating disorders.
- While eating disorders were once most common among middle-class Caucasian women, the condition now affects people in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
According to the APA Work Group on Eating Disorders, anorexia and related eating disorders are much more common than you might think.
- Between 0.5% and 3.7% of women suffer from anorexia.
- Between 1.1% and 4.2% of women suffer from bulimia.
- Approximately 2-5% of males and females exhibit symptoms of a binge eating disorder.
- Eating disorder statistics show that anorexia, bulimia, and related conditions are most common among adolescents, although the risk increases even further during the first year of college.
Men with Eating Disorders
According to the Anorexia and Related Eating Disorders website, the number of men who suffer from eating disorders is on the rise.
- About 10% of all eating disorder patients are male.
- Men who suffer from eating disorders are more likely than their female counterparts to have been overweight as children.
- Eating disorders are slightly more common among homosexual men, since this culture places a heavy emphasis on physical attractiveness.
- Among heterosexual men, participation in a sport such as wrestling or running increases the risk of developing an eating disorder because of the link between a slim build and competitive success.
Eating Disorder Statistics on Recovery and Relapse
According to the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy, & Action, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
- About 20% of all people with eating disorders will eventually die as the result of their illness. In those who suffer from anorexia, the numbers may be even higher.
- One third of all patients will recover after an initial episode, 1/3 will experience a relapse, and 1/3 will suffer from chronic deterioration and multiple re-hospitalizations.
Genetic influences can often impact a person's odds of successfully recovering from an eating disorder.
- According to eating disorders expert Dr. Edward J. Cumella, patients in treatment for eating disorders are 12 times more likely than the general population have parents, siblings, or other close relatives with eating disorders. This impairs the recovery process by reducing the amount of family support a patient receives for his/her treatment.
- Patients with depression are also more likely to suffer from eating disorders, since depression can inhibit appetite and impair self esteem.
- The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has shown that 35% of all women who suffer from alcoholism also suffer from an eating disorder. According to the group's research, this makes it recovery more difficult because both addictions will need to be treated simultaneously.