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Eating Disorders Statistics

By Angie Best-Boss, Contributing Writer

Anorexia afflicts an estimated 0.5 to 3.7% of females. Those with anorexia weigh at least 15% less than normal weight. They develop all the symptoms of starvation, menstrual periods stop and the body starts to lose calcium from the bones. If anorexia becomes severe, victims may die from heart attack as a result of malnutrition, while still others commit suicide.

Bulimia nervosa may accompany anorexia, or it may occur by itself. It is estimated to occur in 1.1 to 4.2% of females. Persons with bulimia frequently experience extreme eating binges and purge by vomiting or taking a laxative or diuretic. Bulimia nervosa can lead to severe tooth decay, intestinal and kidney problems, muscle cramps, heart problems, ruptured stomach or esophagus, and death.

Binge-eating disorder afflicts both men and women. Similar to bulimia, people with binge-eating disorder experience frequent episodes of out-of-control eating. The main difference is that individuals with binge-eating disorder do not purge their bodies of excess calories.

Risk factors for all types of eating disorders include:

  • females, especially those in traditionally masculine cultures
  • certain subcultures where weight is restricted--runners, dancers, etc.
  • someone with early physical development
  • someone who was overweight in childhood
  • someone who needs social approval
  • someone who has difficulty asserting needs
  • someone with poor impulse control
  • someone with a family history of substance abuse
  • someone who has been sexually abused
  • someone who engages in prolonged dieting
  • someone with a high need for control
  • someone with an obsessive need for perfection

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