Chances are, you know at least one person who has struggled with an eating disorder.
One of the most COLLOSAL myths about eating disorders is that they have one look – usually white, young and female. Nothing could be farther from the truth. People in all types of bodies, genders, races, classes, and ages are at risk of developing an Eating Disorder.
It is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and the theme is “Come As You Are: Hindsight is 20/20,” which runs from February 24th through March 1st and, indeed, hindsight is 20/20.
In my more than 20 years of practice in treating eating disorders, I have had the genuine privilege to walk alongside some of the most intelligent, engaging and caring human beings as they work on their recovery.
Over this time, here are some facts and mind-blowing stats I have learned that I want to share with you.
Lessons Learned about Eating Disorders
Here are some general facts that we should all be reminded of:
- People with eating disorders may appear healthy yet may be extremely ill.
- Eating disorders come in all body shapes, sizes, genders, races, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic status.
- You do not have to be thin to have anorexia; in fact, anorexia is commonly missed in people who have larger body sizes.
- You do not “chose” to have an eating disorder; it is not a “fad’’ or “phase.” It is a serious biologically influenced illnesses with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.
- Families are not to blame; genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders and families can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.
- An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning, as eating disorders carry an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications.
- Genes and environment do play an important role in the development of eating disorders. Early detection and intervention increases the likelihood of full recovery from an eating disorder.
Here are some mind-blowing statistics about eating disorders:
- As many as 20 million women and 10 million men will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives.
- Every 62 minutes, at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder.
- An estimated 13% of American women over the age of 50 have symptoms of an eating disorder.
- The most common eating disorder in the United States is binge eating disorder (BED). It is estimated that 3.5% of women, 2% of men, and 30% to 40% of those seeking weight loss treatments can be clinically diagnosed with binge eating disorder.
After working with clients with eating disorders for the past 20 years, I have seen, firsthand, the impact that diets have.
Here are some facts about diets and the role diet culture plays in the development of disordered eating and eating disorders:
- Over 50% of teenage girls and 33% of teenage boys are using restrictive measures to lose weight at any given time.
- 46% of 9 to 11 year-olds are sometimes, or very often, on diets, and 82% of their families are sometimes, or very often on diets.
- 91% of women recently surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting, 22% dieted often or always.
- 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years.
- 35% of normal dieters progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-blown eating disorders.
- 25% of American men and 45% of American women are on a diet on any given day.
- Bullying contributes to eating disorders; specifically weight shaming and many who struggle with eating disorders cite bullying about weight as one of the initial triggers.
- Of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) 40-60% are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat.
The common thread in all of these statistics is the desire to lose weight.
Why are so many people trying to lose weight?
Weight stigma is an important factor in the development of disordered eating, and it poses a significant threat to psychological and physical health. You can read more about weight stigma, in this blog, What is Weight Stigma and Why is it Important?
If you or a loved one is struggling with disordered eating patterns, or you’re just not sure if your thoughts about food and weight are a concern, now is a good time to get a free screening for an eating disorder.
Click this link to access a free screening tool from the National Eating Disorders Association.
If you are struggling and want help with your journey to recovery, please reach out to me and my team of dietitians and we can help you. Book a free consult to determine what programs and services we offer at Erica Leon Nutrition that would best fit your nutrition needs.
Nutritional Guidance 2.0: Journey from Eating Disorder Recovery to Intuitive Eating
If you are recovering from an eating disorder and feel ready to practice skills that connect your mind and body, our Nutritional Guidance program is just right for you. This self-study program will help you discover what “normal eating” means, become aware of your hunger and fullness cues, address food and shopping challenges, and understand how to make snacks feel satisfying. You will also learn about mindfulness and reactive eating and get access to an exercise to help you with your reactive eating.
Register today for this course for only $19 and begin your journey with Nutritional Guidance from Erica Leon, an Eating Disorders Specialist and Registered Dietitian.