It is estimated that 8 million Americans today have an eating disorder. With the continued growing prevalence of eating disorders in America, there is still a lack of knowledge surrounding these life-altering disorders. With awareness comes empowerment, both for those suffering from eating disorders themselves and for those who can help those suffering individuals.
Here are five things you might not know about eating disorders:
1) You probably know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder.
One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia, and two to three in 100 American women have bulimia. Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder. You might personally know someone who is currently fighting an eating disorder.
Take the time to educate yourself on the signs of a potential eating disorder. Make sure that you are there for your loved ones around you who may be suffering from an eating disorder. Or you may be battling an eating disorder. Know that you are not alone. Many others are fighting the same issues you are, and there are many people (those close to you, as well as professionals) who are willing and able to help you.
2) There are many surprising causes of eating disorders.
Many different aspects are said to cause or aid in the development of an eating disorder. Some experts say that biological elements (genetics, other physical traits/disorders, PTSD, even ADHD) are the leading causes of eating disorders. Many other experts say that the reasons are all psychologically or emotionally based, meaning that they find their root in mental health illness or a variety of emotions (stress, depression, anxiety, fear, etc.). Even others say that eating disorders find their roots in society’s and the media’s views, and portrayals of women are causing the rise of eating disorders.
With all of the theories and potential causes of eating disorders, it is important to understand one thing: not all eating disorders are brought on by the same causes. Every person’s individual life experiences, thought processes, and emotions can affect the development of an eating disorder. And that means that each person will have an individual path toward recovery.
3) Eating disorders can kill.
Eating disorders are not just a fad or a way to get attention. They are not something to be brushed under the rug while the individual “goes through a phase.” They cannot and should not be ignored. They are a big deal. They can kill.
Of all mental illnesses, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate. 20% of people who have anorexia will die from complications related to their disease. People can (and many times do) die from eating disorders or difficulties associated with the conditions (suicide, heart problems, etc.).
Eating disorders are severe. They can change a person’s life, behavior, personality, and they can even lead to death. They are very serious, life-threatening disorders and should be treated accordingly.
4) A variety of people struggle with eating disorders.
0.5 to 3.7% of females are afflicted by anorexia. And 1.1 to 4.2% are currently fighting bulimia nervosa. But it isn’t just women who are fighting eating disorders. Males are fighting these disorders in increasing numbers. It is estimated that 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males.
These disorders are even affecting children. Individuals are increasingly having “weight issues” at younger and younger ages:
For girls between the ages of 11 and 13, 50% of them see themselves as overweight.
It is starting earlier: 95% of individuals with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
80% of 13-year-olds have attempted to lose weight.
5) Most people don’t get treatment for their eating disorder.
Only 1 in 10 people with eating disorders ever receive professional treatment for their disease. This can be due to several reasons. Fear, denial, and cost can all prevent an individual from seeking treatment for their illness.
There are many things that you might not know about eating disorders. But you now know that it is widespread in our society, affecting a variety of individuals. You also know how serious it is. Not only is it caused by several different causes, but it can kill. Whether you are struggling with an eating disorder yourself, or you strive to help a loved one battle one of these life-threatening disorders, here is the most important thing to know: there is help and treatment available. Whether it is through friends and family, or a professional treatment center, you are not alone. Utilize the resources that are available to you. Some people are ready and able to help!