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5 Startling Facts About Eating Disorders


As National Eating Disorder Awareness Week continues, organizations and advocates across the country are asking people to start paying more attention to an issue that often goes unrecognized.

And while many people have preconceived notions about eating disorders (like all anorexia patients look bony and starving, or bulimics run to the bathroom after every meal), there are many facts about eating disorders that are lesser known by the general public.

Important facts are little-known

Tara Culp-Ressler from Think Progress outlines five startling things to remember during Eating Disorder Awareness Week:

  1. Children are at high risk. While most eating disorders tend to manifest during late adolescence or early adulthood years, recent research shows that conditions like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are on the rise among children. One study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that hospitalizations for eating disorders in children under 12 increased 119 percent between 1999 and 2006.
  2. Shape and size doesn't matter. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, about 20 million U.S. women and 10 million men will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives. These facts alone poke holes in the idea that we can spot eating disorders based on someone's size, shape or weight.
  3. Anorexia kills. According to the American Psychological Association, one in every five people with anorexia will die from the condition. When an eating disorder co-exists with another mental health problem, like depression or anxiety, this increases fatality rates as well. One 2003 study found that people with anorexia are about 50 percent more likely to commit suicide than individuals without the condition.
  4. Funding is sparse. Based on figures from the National Institute of Health, the government allocates 93 cents in research funding per eating disorder patient, while the average autistic person is designated $88. So while hospitalization and medical costs for eating disorder patients are on the rise, the money to cover these costs isn't being allocated.
  5. Health coverage is lacking. The National Eating Disorder Awareness organization states that just one in 10 people with an eating disorder gets treatment for the condition. Why? Possibly because many eating disorders are hard to diagnose, but also because healthcare laws largely consider eating disorder coverage to be non-essential.

To learn more about Eating Disorder Awareness Week and to get involved, visit

Source: Think Progress

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