How Prevalent are Eating Disorders?

The problem with determining the number of people afflicted with eating disorders is that not all cases are reported and documented. In the United States alone there are over ten million cases reported. Of the reported cases ninety percent involve women. From what is known about eating disorders statistics have been developed that provide alarming concern as to the prevalence of the disease.

Since women are more likely to develop an eating disorder, it is estimated that seventy to eight percent of women are likely to have signs of eating disorders at some point during their lifetime. Even more disturbing is that between early teens to the mid-twenties roughly forty percent of women will develop some sort of eating disorder.



From the reported and documented cases of people with eating disorders the majority of these cases have discovered that the beginning of the eating disorder occurs by the time the person is twenty years old.

There are numerous occurrences of eating disorders that are never reported or documented. Roughly out of everyone that has an eating disorder less than ten percent will seek medical treatment. Alcoholics below the age of thirty have a seventy percent risk of developing an eating disorder than people that do not drink.



The reason that there are so many cases that go unreported each year has to do with the individuals. People will feel embarrassed about their eating disorder. Or people will not admit that they have a problem. Eating disorders can last for years. Some people can correct the behavior themselves, but for most it is just as difficult as trying to stop smoking or giving up alcohol. As with any disease the first step to recovery is for the afflicted person to acknowledge there is a problem. Until the person comes to this realization there is not much anyone can to do help them.

Underlying symptoms of eating disorders can be attributed to feelings of low self-esteem, stress from family, work and other relationships, the inability to express or to deal with emotions, and the overall need to be accepted by one’s peers.

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