How Many People Suffer from Eating Disorders

According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

  • Between .5 percent and 3.7 percent of women suffer from anorexia nervosa at some point in their lives.
  • Between 1.1 and 4.2 percent of women suffer from bulimia nervosa at some point in their lives.
  • Between 2 and 5 percent of Americans experience binge-eating disorder during any six-month period.

Women are more likely than men to develop eating disorders. Only 5 to 15 percent of those with anorexia or bulimia are men, and only 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorder are men.

—Paula Kepos depression: mood disorder characterized by apathy, restlessness, and negative thoughts obesity: the condition of being overweight, according to established norms based on sex, age, and height eating disorder: behavioral disorder involving excess consumption, avoidance of consumption, self-induced vomiting, or other food-related aberrant behavior amenorrhea: lack of menstruation osteoporosis: weakening of the bone structure electrolyte: salt dissolved in fluid physiological: related to the biochemical processes of the body neurological: related to the nervous system neurotransmitter: molecule released by one nerve cell to stimulate or inhibit another accompanied by a sense of shame, embarrassment, and lack of self-control, episodes usually take place alone, in secret.

Bingeing is frequently triggered by troubled relationships, extreme hunger subsequent to stringent dieting, or feelings of melancholy. While gorging on coveted foods may temporarily improve one's mood, it is usually followed by feelings of depression and low self-esteem. Although these incidents may contribute to obesity, they may also occur in individuals of normal body weight who compensate for binges with excessive exercising or even fasting.

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