Originally considered to be a disease targeting affluent white women and adolescents, eating disorders are now prevalent among both males and females, affecting people of all ages and from many ethnic and cultural groups. As many as 70 million people worldwide are estimated to suffer from these conditions, with one in five women displaying pathological eating patterns.
Most eating-disorder research focuses on females, who represent 90 percent of all cases. The additional 10 percent are males, a group that is often underdiagnosed due a widespread misperception that this disease only affects females. This belief also makes males less likely to seek treatment, frequently resulting in poor recovery. Among males, body image is a driving factor in the development of eating problems. Gender identity may also play a role in the evolution of eating disorders, with homosexual males more prone to this disorder than the overall male population.
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