Fact and Fiction about Eating Disorders

It’s estimated that 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States will be affected by an eating disorder of some type during at least one stage of their lives. There are many misconceptions surrounding eating disorders.

Risk Factors

Although men are also at risk of eating disorders, more women than men are impacted. Various factors are thought to be at the root cause of this disease, with researchers particularly studying variations in DNA as a link to increased risk.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are multiple types of eating disorders. A few eating disorder types include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: This is characterized as eating very little, fear of becoming overweight, distorted body weight self-image
  • Bulimia Nervosa: This typically presents as binge eating followed by behavior to prevent weight gain (purging)
  • Binge Eating Disorder: eating large amounts of food followed by feelings of loss of control, depression

Eating Disorder Facts and Fiction

Oftentimes, eating disorder facts are confused with the myths surrounding this serious condition.

  • One fact often misunderstood is that it is not simply a chosen lifestyle, followed to boost self-image but actually a mental health disease. The truth is that eating disorders aren’t diets that have gotten out of control. There are psychological, and self-destructive actions underlying these behaviors.
  • Another myth is thinking you can identify someone with an eating disorder just by looking at their body shape. Eating disorders can present as appearing to be underweight, overweight, or even at a ‘normal’ weight. They cannot be determined simply by someone’s outward appearance.
  • The myth persists that only young adolescent girls suffer from the illness, yet eating disorders can affect persons of any gender, age, socioeconomic class, race, or body shape.
  • Vomiting after eating a large meal is not an effective or safe way to lose weight. The fact is that binging and purging is dangerous, with serious medical complications, and doesn’t result in successful weight loss.
  • Only 10% of those suffering from eating disorders seek treatment, yet there is a belief that people with an eating disorder are getting the help they need. With the highest mortality rate of all psychological illnesses, it is vital that resources to help are available and accessible.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with an eating disorder, positive therapeutic treatment is available for long-term successful recovery.