Statistics

Taken from the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA).

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 with anorexia have 10 times the risk of dying compared to their same-aged peers.
Smink, F. E., van Hoeken, D., & Hoek, H. W. (2012). Epidemiology of eating disorders: Incidence, prevalence and mortality rates. Current Psychiatry Reports, 14(4), 406-414.
Fichter, M. M., & Quadflieg, N. (2016). Mortality in eating disorders – Results of a large prospective clinical longitudinal study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, Epub ahead of print. 
  • Males represent 25% of individuals with anorexia nervosa, and they are at a higher risk of dying, in part because they are often diagnosed later since many people assume males don’t have eating disorders.
Mond, J.M., Mitchison, D., & Hay, P. (2014) “Prevalence and implications of eating disordered behavior in men” in Cohn, L., Lemberg, R. (2014) Current Findings on Males with Eating Disorders. Philadelphia, PA: Routledge. 
  • Subclinical eating disordered behaviors (including binge eating, purging, laxative abuse, and fasting for weight loss) are nearly as common among males as they are among females.
Mond, J.M., Mitchison, D., & Hay, P. (2014) “Prevalence and implications of eating disordered behavior in men” in Cohn, L., Lemberg, R. (2014) Current Findings on Males with Eating Disorders. Philadelphia, PA: Routledge. 

Athletes 

 

  • One study found that 35% of female and 10% of male college athletes were at risk for anorexia nervosa and 58% of female and 38% of male college athletes were at risk for bulimia nervosa.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Food for Thought: Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) Columbia University; New York: 2003.
  • The prevalence of eating disorders in college athletes is higher among dancers and the most elite college athletes, particularly those involved with sports that emphasize a lean physique or weight restriction (e.g., figure skating, wrestling, rowing).
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Food for Thought: Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) Columbia University; New York: 2003.
  • Among female college athletes surveyed, 25.5% had subclinical eating disorder symptoms.
Greenleaf, C., Petrie, T. A., Carter, J., & Reel, J. J. (2009). Female Collegiate Athletes: Prevalence of Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating Behaviors. Journal of American College Health, 57(5), 489-496. doi:10.3200/jach.57.5.489-496

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Combining information from several sources, Eric Stice and Cara Bohon found that
    • Between 0.2% and 3.5% of females and 0.9% and 2.0% of males will develop binge eating disorder
    • Subthreshold binge eating disorder occurs in 1.6% of adolescent females
Stice E & Bohon C. (2012). Eating Disorders. In Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, 2nd Edition, Theodore Beauchaine & Stephen Linshaw, eds. New York: Wiley. 

Bulimia 

  • Combining information from several sources, Eric Stice and Cara Bohon found that
    • Between 1.1% and 4.6% of females and 0.1% to 0.5% of males will develop bulimia
    • Subthreshold bulimia occurs in 2.0% to 5.4% of adolescent females
Stice E & Bohon C. (2012). Eating Disorders. In Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, 2nd Edition, Theodore Beauchaine & Stephen Linshaw, eds. New York: Wiley. 

Bullying and Weight Shaming 

  • The best-known environmental contributor to the development of eating disorders is the sociocultural idealization of thinness.
Culbert, K. M., Racine, S. E., & Klump, K. L. (2015). Research Review: What we have learned about the causes of eating disorders – a synthesis of sociocultural, psychological, and biological research. J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 56(11), 1141-1164. 
  • By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.
Smolak, L. (2011). Body image development in childhood. In T. Cash & L. Smolak (Eds.),  Body Image: A Handbook of Science, Practice, and Prevention (2nd ed.).New York: Guilford. 
  • 79% of weight-loss program participants reported coping with weight stigma by eating more food.
Andreyeva, T., Puhl, R. M. and Brownell, K. D. (2008), Changes in Perceived Weight Discrimination Among Americans, 1995–1996 Through 2004–2006. Obesity, 16: 1129–1134. doi:10.1038/oby.2008.35
  • Up to 40% of overweight girls and 37% of overweight boys are teased about their weight by peers or family members. Weight teasing predicts weight gain, binge eating, and extreme weight control measures.
Golden, N. H., Schneider, M., & Wood, C. (2016). Preventing Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents. Pediatrics, 138(3). doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1649
  • Children of mothers who are overly concerned about their weight are at increased risk for modeling their unhealthy attitudes and behaviors.
Andreyeva, T., Puhl, R. M. and Brownell, K. D. (2008), Changes in Perceived Weight Discrimination Among Americans, 1995–1996 Through 2004–2006. Obesity, 16: 1129–1134. doi:10.1038/oby.2008.35
  • Weight stigma poses a significant threat to psychological and physical health. It has been documented as a significant risk factor for depression, low self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction.
Andreyeva, T., Puhl, R. M. and Brownell, K. D. (2008), Changes in Perceived Weight Discrimination Among Americans, 1995–1996 Through 2004–2006. Obesity, 16: 1129–1134. doi:10.1038/oby.2008.35
  • Low self-esteem is a common characteristic of individuals who have eating disorders.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Food for Thought: Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) Columbia University; New York: 2003.
  • Perceived weight discrimination is significantly associated with a current diagnosis of mood and anxiety disorders and mental health services use.
Hatzenbuehler ML, Keyes KM, Hasin DS. Associations between perceived weight discrimination and the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in the general population. Obesity 2009;17(11)2033–2039 

Dieting and “Clean Eating”

  • In a large study of 14– and 15-year-olds, dieting was the most important predictor of a developing eating disorder. Those who dieted moderately were 5x more likely to develop an eating disorder, and those who practiced extreme restriction were 18x more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who did not diet.
Golden, N. H., Schneider, M., & Wood, C. (2016). Preventing Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents. Pediatrics, 138(3). doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1649 
  • 62.3% of teenage girls and 28.8% of teenage boys report trying to lose weight. 58.6% of girls and 28.2% of boys are actively dieting. 68.4% of girls and 51% of boys exercise with the goal of losing weight or to avoid gaining weight.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Food for Thought: Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) Columbia University; New York: 2003.
  • Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2005). I’m, Like, SO Fat!.New York: Guilford.
  • 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. Overweight girls are more likely than normal weight girls to engage in such extreme dieting.
Boutelle, K., Neumark-Sztainer, D.,Story, M., &Resnick, M. (2002).Weight control behaviors  among obese, overweight, and nonoverweight adolescents. Journal of Pediatric Psychology,27, 531-540. 
Neumark-Sztainer, D., &Hannan, P. (2001). Weight-related behaviors among adolescent girls and boys: A national survey. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 154, 569-577.
Wertheim, E., Paxton, S., &Blaney, S. (2009).Body image in girls.In L. Smolak & J. K. Thompson (Eds.), Body image, eating disorders, and obesity in youth: Assessment, prevention, and treatment (2nd ed.) (pp. 47-76). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. 
  • Girls who diet frequently are 12 times as likely to binge as girls who don’t diet.
 Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2005). I’m, Like, SO Fat!.New York: Guilford.
  • Even among clearly non-overweight girls, over 1/3 report dieting.
Wertheim, E., Paxton, S., &Blaney, S. (2009).Body image in girls.In L. Smolak & J. K. Thompson (Eds.), Body image, eating disorders, and obesity in youth: Assessment, prevention, and treatment (2nd ed.) (pp. 47-76). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. 
  • 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years.
Grodstein, F., Levine, R., Spencer, T., Colditz, G. A., &Stampfer, M. J. (1996). Three-year follow-up of participants in a commercial weight loss program: Can you keep it off? Archives of Internal Medicine 156(12), 1302.
Neumark-Sztainer D., Haines, J., Wall, M., & Eisenberg, M. ( 2007). Why does dieting predict weight gain in adolescents? Findings from project EAT-II: a 5-year longitudinal study. Journal of the American Dietetic Associatio, 107(3), 448-55
  • 19.1% of teenage girls and 7.6% of teenage boys fast for 24 hours or more, 12.6% of girls and 5.5% of boys use diet pills, powders or liquids, and 7.8% of girls and 2.9% of boys vomit or take laxatives to lose weight or to avoid gaining weight.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Food for Thought: Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) Columbia University; New York: 2003.
  • 12.6% of female high school students took diet pills, powders or liquids to control their weight without a doctor’s advice.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Food for Thought: Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) Columbia University; New York: 2003.
  • Multiple studies have found that dieting was associated with greater weight gain and increased rates of binge eating in both boys and girls.
Golden, N. H., Schneider, M., & Wood, C. (2016). Preventing Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents. Pediatrics, 138(3). doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1649 
  • In elementary school fewer than 25% of girls diet regularly. Yet those who do know what dieting involves and can talk about calorie restriction and food choices for weight loss fairly effectively.
Smolak, L. (2011). Body image development in childhood. In T. Cash & L. Smolak (Eds.), Body Image: A Handbook of Science, Practice, and Prevention (2nd ed.).New York: Guilford. 
  • Middle school girls who dieted more than once a week were nearly four times as likely to become smokers, compared to non-dieters.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Food for Thought: Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) Columbia University; New York: 2003.
  • A content analysis of weight-loss advertising in 2001 found that more than half of all advertising for weight-loss product made use of false, unsubstantiated claims.
Wertheim, E., Paxton, S., &Blaney, S. (2009).Body image in girls.In L. Smolak & J. K. Thompson (Eds.), Body image, eating disorders, and obesity in youth: Assessment, prevention, and treatment (2nd ed.) (pp. 47-76). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. 
  • Americans spend over $60 billion on dieting and diet products each year.
Hobbs, R., Broder, S., Pope, H., & Rowe, J. (2006). “How adolescent girls interpret weight-loss advertising.” Health Education Research, 21(5) 719-730.

Lebanon and the Middle East

  • Eating disorders, disordered eating, and body image dissatisfaction are common among both young females and males in the Middle East and the Arab World.
Mousa, T.Y., Al-Domi, H.A., Mashal, R.H. and Jibril, M.A.K., 2010. Eating disturbances among adolescent schoolgirls in Jordan. Appetite, 54(1), pp.196-201.
Musaiger, A.O. and Al-Mannai, M., 2014. Association between exposure to media and body weight concern among female university students in five Arab countries: A preliminary cross-cultural study. Journal of Biosocial Science, 46(2), pp.240-247.
Musaiger, A.O., Al-Mannai, M., Tayyem, R., Al-Lalla, O., Ali, E.Y., Kalam, F., Benhamed, M.M., Saghir, S., Halahleh, I., Djoudi, Z. and Chirane, M., 2013. Risk of disordered eating attitudes among adolescents in seven Arab countries by gender and obesity: A cross-cultural study. Appetite, 60, pp.162-167.
Pike, K.M., Hoek, H.W. and Dunne, P.E., 2014. Cultural trends and eating disorders. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 27(6), pp.436-442.
Schulte, S.J. and Thomas, J., 2013. Relationship between eating pathology, body dissatisfaction and depressive symptoms among male and female adolescents in the United Arab Emirates. Eating Behaviors, 14(2), pp.157-160.
Thomas, J., Khan, S. and Abdulrahman, A.A., 2010. Eating attitudes and body image concerns among female university students in the United Arab Emirates. Appetite, 54(3), pp.595-598.
  • In Lebanon, research on adolescents and young adults found the desire to be thin, a high awareness of the calorie content of foods, and the avoidance of certain foods in addition to the use of laxatives and diet pills.
Yahia, N., El-Ghazale, H., Achkar, A. and Rizk, S., 2011. Dieting practices and body image perception among Lebanese university students. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 20(1), pp.21-28.
Afifi‐Soweid, R.A., Najem Kteily, M.B. and Shediac‐Rizkallah, M.C., 2002. Preoccupation with weight and disordered eating behaviors of entering students at a university in Lebanon. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 32(1), pp.52-57.
  • The described profile of a Lebanese ED patient is that of a “single female young adult of middle to high socio-economic status with severe ED symptoms and depression” .
Zeeni, N., Safieddine, H. and Doumit, R., 2017. Eating Disorders in Lebanon: Directions for Public Health Action. Community Mental Health Journal, 53(1), pp.117-125
  • A study in Lebanon found that factors such as media influence predicted eating disorders through the pathway of disordered eating in university students.
Sanchez-Ruiz, M.J., El-Jor, C., Kharma, J.A., Bassil, M. and Zeeni, N., 2017. Personality, emotion-related variables, and media pressure predict eating disorders via disordered eating in Lebanese university students. Eating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, pp.1-10.

Men 

  • From 1999 to 2009, the number of men hospitalized for an eating disorder-related cause increased by 53%.
Zhao, Y., Encinosa, W. Update on Hospitalizations for Eating Disorders, 1999 to 2009. HCUP Statistical Brief #120. September, 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb120.pdf
  • The most widely-quoted study estimates that males have a lifetime prevalence of .3% for anorexia nervosa (AN), .5% for bulimia nervosa (BN) and 2% for binge eating disorder (BED). These figures correspond to males representing 25% of individuals with AN and BN and 36% of those with BED. They are based on DSM-IV criteria.
Hudson, J., Hiripi, E., Pope, H., & Kessler, R. (2007) “The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the national comorbidity survey replication.” Biological Psychiatry, 61, 348–358.
  • In a study of 1,383 adolescents, the prevalence of any DSM-5 ED in males was reported to be 1.2% at 14 years, 2.6% at 17 years, and 2.9% at 20 years.
Allen, K., Byme, S., Oddy, W., & Crosby, R. (2013) “DSM-IV-TR and DSM5 eating disorders in adolescents: prevalence, stability, and psychosocial correlates in a population-based sample of male and female adolescents.” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122, 720-732.
  • A study of 2,822 students on a large university campus found that 3.6% of males had positive screens for ED. The female-to-male ratio was 3-to-1.
Eisenberg, D., Nicklett, E., Roeder, K., & Kirz, N. (2011) “Eating disorders Symptoms Among College Students: Prevalence, Persistence, Correlates, and Treatment-Seeking.” Journal of American College Health, 59-8, 700-707.
  • In looking at male sexuality and eating disorders, higher percentage of gay (15%) than heterosexual males (5%) had diagnoses of ED but when these percentages are applied to population figures, the majority of males with ED are heterosexual.
Feldman, M., Meyer, I. (2007) “Eating disorders in diverse, lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations.” International Journal of Eating Disorders, 40-3, 218-226.
  • Subclinical eating disordered behaviors (including binge eating, purging, laxative abuse and fasting for weight loss) are nearly as common among males as they are among females.
Mitchison, D., Hay, P., Slewa-Younan, S., & Mond, J. (2014). The changing demographic profile of eating disorder behaviors in the community. BMC Public Health, 14(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-943
  • Various studies suggest that risk of mortality for males with ED is higher than it is for females.
Raevuoni, A., Keski-Rahkonen, Hoek, H. (2014) “A review of eating disorders in males.” Current Opinions on Psychiatry, 27-6, 426-430.
  • Men with eating disorders often suffer from comorbid conditions such as depression, excessive exercise, substance disorders, and anxiety.
Weltzin, T. Carlson, T., et al. (2014) “Treatment Issues and Outcomes for Males with Eating Disorders” in Cohn, Lemberg.
  • A gender-sensitive approach with recognition of different needs and dynamics for males is critical in effective treatment. Males in treatment can feel out of place when predominantly surrounded by females, and an all-male treatment environment is recommended—when possible.
Weltzin, T. Carlson, T., et al. (2014) “Treatment Issues and Outcomes for Males with Eating Disorders” in Cohn, Lemberg.
Bunnell, D. & Maine, M. (2014) “Understanding and treating males with eating disorders” in Cohn, Lemberg.

Mortality 

  • Eating disorders are serious conditions that can have a profound mental and physical impact, including death. This should not discourage anyone struggling—recovery is real, and treatment is available. Statistics on mortality and eating disorders underscore the impact of these disorders and the importance of treatment.
  • A review of nearly fifty years of research confirms that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.
Arcelus, J., Mitchell, A. J., Wales, J., & Nielsen, S. (2011). Mortality rates in patients with Anorexia Nervosa and other eating disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(7), 724-731.
  • Anorexia has an estimated mortality rate of around 10%.
Arcelus, J., Mitchell, A. J., Wales, J., & Nielsen, S. (2011). Mortality rates in patients with Anorexia Nervosa and other eating disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(7), 724-731.
  • Among those who struggle with anorexia, 1 in 5 deaths is by suicide
  • A Swedish study of 6,000 women who were treated for anorexia nervosa found that, over 30 years, women with anorexia nervosa had a six-fold increase in mortality compared to the general population. The researchers also found an increased mortality rate from ‘natural’ causes, such as cancer, compared to the general population. Younger age and longer initial hospitalizations were associated with improved outcomes, while comorbid conditions (e.g., alcohol addiction) worsened the outcome.
Papadopoulos, F. C., A. Ekbom, L. Brandt, and L. Ekselius. “Excess Mortality, Causes of Death and Prognostic Factors in Anorexia Nervosa.” The British Journal of Psychiatry 194.1 (2008): 10-17.
  • Researchers studied records of 1,885 individuals evaluated for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and EDNOS at the University of Minnesota outpatient clinic, over 8-25 years. Researchers found an increased risk of suicide for all eating disorders studied. Crude mortality rates were 4% for anorexia nervosa; 3.9% for bulimia nervosa; and 5.2% for EDNOS, now recognized as OSFED.
Crow, S. J., Peterson, C. B., Swanson, S. A., Raymond, N. C., Specker, S., Eckert, E. D., & Mitchell, J. E. (2009). Increased mortality in bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 166(12), 1342-1346. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.09020247
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