Facts On Eating Disorders

Let’s take a good, hard look at the facts on eating disorders. The eating disorder statistics are staggering. One to two percent of Americans suffer from an eating disorder at any given time. Eating disorders are most common among teens and young adults, but children as young as six have been diagnosed with such disorders.

Facts on Eating Disorders

The facts on eating disorders are that eating disorders can be deadly. About 20% of those with eating disorders that do not receive treatment will die from the condition.

There is much still to be learned about eating disorders. We have ideas about possible causes, but don’t know for sure. Treatment is only successful in about 60% of cases, so more research into treatment is needed.

Some Eating Disorder Statistics To Consider

Here are some eating disorder statistics to consider:

  • 1 – 2% of Americans suffer from some sort of an eating disorder.
  • 4% of college-age women suffer from an eating disorder.
  • 5 – 10% of those with eating disorders are male.
  • Men who participate in sports like gymnastics, ice skating, dancing, and wrestling are more likely to develop eating disorders than men who do not participate in these kinds of activities.
  • While eating disorders are most common among adolescents and young adults in their twenties, children as young as six years old have been diagnosed with eating disorders.
  • People who diet frequently are at a much higher risk of developing eating disorders than those who do not diet.
  • 20% of people with eating disorders that do not receive treatment die from the condition.
  • Treatment is only successful in about 60% of all cases.
  • With treatment, remission usually occurs within three months, but relapse is common with about 80% experiencing relapse at least once.

Health Facts on Eating Disorders

Stomach Ache

Stomach Ache From Eating Disorder

Eating disorder statistics point to a number of health problems associated with eating disorders. Potential complications include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Weakened heart muscle
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Kidney damage and failure
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Stomach rupture
  • Osteoporosis (brittle bones)
  • Loss of muscle
  • Hormonal disturbances (women may cease menstruating)
  • Tooth damage and loss
  • The growth of fine, downy hair all over the body

While many of the health problems caused by eating disorders are reversible if the person begins eating a healthy diet again, some problems may be permanent. For example, damage to the heart and kidneys is often long-lasting.

Facts on Eating Disorders Treatment and Recovery

As mentioned earlier, without treatment, eating disorders can be deadly. Eating disorder statistics tell us that with treatment, about 60% of those with eating disorders make a full recovery. Another 20% make a partial recovery, allowing them to maintain work and to hold some superficial relationships, while still struggling with unhealthy eating. The final 20% make no real progress toward recovery and continue to be at risk for the kinds of health problems described above.

Successful treatment for eating disorders must include medical care, mental health care, and nutritional education and counseling. Without those three components, treatment is unlikely to be a success. Inpatient care is often needed at the beginning, with outpatient care and long-term follow-up to follow. Long-term follow-up care is necessary in order to prevent relapse.

Getting More Facts on Eating Disorders

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, or if you just want more information, we encourage you to visit our homepage. This website provides information on eating disorders and recovery. You can also contact an eating disorder treatment center for more information.


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