8 facts you might not know about eating disorders


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The National Eating Disorder Association wants us to make a pledge to intervene sooner when we stop finding our friend’s eating habits peculiar and start seeing them as an eating disorder. 

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week runs annually, and in 2014, it’s Feb. 23 through March 1. This year’s campaign, “I Had No Idea,” targets family, friends and the community to get them to notice the disease and its damaging physical and emotional effects on loved ones. 

An eating disorder is an illness that takes many forms and extends beyond bad habits — it consumes one’s thoughts and daily habits. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating, ortharexia, over-exercise, body dysmorphia and other similar disorders are rooted in highly complex factors, such as genetics, biology, behavior, psychology and social variables. It seems as though the more questions researchers answer about eating disorders, the more questions appear.

To promote National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, we present several important facts about the illness:


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognizes anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge-eating as eating disorders, while ortharexia, over-exercise, body dysmorphia and others are recognized as eating disorders not otherwise specified, or EDNOS.


In America, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.


Thirty million people in the U.S. — 20 million women and 10 million men — have had an eating disorder at some point in their life.


About half of those with eating disorders are depressed.


Treatment for an eating disorder costs between $500 and $2,000 per day, so it’s no surprise that only 1-in-10 people with the disease get treatment.


While eating disorders are most common in children, teens and young adults, hospitalization for the disease for those under 12 years old increased by 119% from 1999 to 2006.


Perhaps that increase has to do with the social pressure to be thin, as 80% of children under 10 are afraid of being fat, and 42% of first-, second- and third-grader girls have a desire to be thinner.

Let’s cut it with the 00-sized fashion models, Photoshopped magazine spreads, “Post-baby bodies,” #thinspiration and other harmful promotions of extreme and unrealistic thinness, please.


Recently, there has been a growing movement to improve body image through more conscious efforts to be more body-positive. Let’s hope this promotion in top magazines and other media outlets continues to help spread education and awareness.