Eating Disorder Statistics

Over the last century, the number of people struggling with an eating disorder has increased significantly with each passing decade.

Today, more than 10 million people are binging and purging or starving themselves due to an unrealistic view of their body. More than 50 percent of teenage girls and nearly 33 percent of teenage boys employ harmful weight control behaviors that include fasting, smoking, obsessively counting calories, abusing over-the-counter weight loss medications, vomiting or taking laxatives.

Current studies show weight-conscious thoughts and behaviors are present far before the self-conscious teenage years in American youth. In one survey, 42 percent of 1st through 3rd grade girls claimed they wished they could be thinner and 81 percent of 10-year-old kids said they thought they were too fat.

Because the average woman in the US measures 5’4” and weighs 140 pounds and the average model measures 5’11” and weighs in at 117 pounds, many believe that the media generates these destructive attitudes about body image. While this may certainly be a factor, the problem may also be passed down from parent to child. Other research shows that 46 percent of nine- to 11-year-old kids report dieting occasionally to frequently, while 82 percent of the families of those same children admit to dieting “sometimes” to “very often.” The family’s attitudes toward weight seem to have a strong correlation to their children’s behaviors.

The truth is that no one knows the root cause of eating disorders. In terms of society, it seems very much like a “chicken and the egg” type of problem. Do society’s beliefs drive the media or vice versa? We may never know. What we do know, however, is that our beliefs about body image on a whole seem to be having a negative effect on the physical and emotional health of the American population.

Researching the Cause

statistics and factsThe growth of eating disorders over the past 20 years has skyrocketed, but research to find the causes and best treatment methods are few and far between. In addition, insurance coverage is severely lacking for someone in need of help. For example, fewer than half as many people are afflicted with Alzheimer’s than with an eating disorder in this country, yet Alzheimer’s research receives nearly 54 times more funding by the National Institute of Health (NIH) than eating disorders. While schizophrenia affects only 20 percent of the number of people affected by eating disorders, research for schizophrenia receives 29 times as much money from the NIH.

Anorexia nervosa has the largest premature death rate compared to any other psychiatric diagnoses due to the physical damage it ravages on the body and/or suicide by those afflicted. It is also more expensive to treat than other disorders. However, $1.20 is spent on research for each individual with an eating disorder as compared to $159 per person with schizophrenia. More funding needs to be allocated for discovering the direct causes and most effective treatments for eating disorders because the number of those battling these diseases rises every year.

Effectiveness of Treatment

Perhaps due to feelings of shame, denial or lack of education, only 10 percent of people with an eating disorder actually receive treatment. Regrettably, in the absence of treatment, 20 percent of individuals with an eating disorder will die. However, even despite the lack of funding for treatment research, the death rate falls to just over two percent when intervention is received.

Treatments for disordered eating diagnoses are usually a relatively long process. In order to maintain a successful recovery, individuals need intense and prolonged intervention. One study found that up to 80 percent of young women do not receive the intensity of therapy needed in order to sustain a healthy balance. This is why finding a quality eating disorder treatment program is so key for those investigating help for themselves or someone they love.

The good news is that even though it may take a long time, studies show the success of eating disorder treatment is superior to that of either breast cancer or obesity. It takes commitment and hard work, but beating an eating disorder for the long run is very possible.

Finding Quality Eating Disorder Treatment

Quality and intensity are vital components of eating disorder treatment for those looking for help with an eating disorder. If you or someone you care about is suffering with issues surrounding eating, please call us today and see if treatment is right for you. We provide connections to high-caliber intervention programs for eating disorders.

You don’t have to suffer alone another day. Pick up the phone and let us assist you in moving in the right direction to get yourself back to a healthy way of life.