About Eating Disorders

Facts: There is No Disputing the Numbers

  • Eating disorders are serious and can be fatal.
    • A review of nearly fifty years of research confirms that anorexia nervosa has the second highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.[1]
    • For females between fifteen to twenty-four years old who suffer from anorexia nervosa, the mortality rate associated with the illness is twelve times higher than the death rate of all other causes of death.[2]
  • Eating disorders cross racial, economic, and educational boundaries.
    • The prevalence of eating disorders is similar among Non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians in the United States.[3][4]
  • Eating disorders may increase risk of other mental health disorders.
    • Alcohol and other substance abuse disorders are 4 times more common than in the general populations.[5]
    • Depression and other mood disorders co-occur quite frequently.[6][7]
    • There is a markedly elevated risk for obsessive-compulsive disorder.[8]
  • Eating disorders and their contributing factors can start at a very young age.
    • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.[9]
    • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.[10]
    • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.[11]
    • 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives.[12][13][14]
    • Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.[15]
    • Girls who diet frequently are 12 times as likely to binge as girls who don’t diet.[16]
    • In a college campus survey, 91% of the women admitted to controlling their weight through dieting. [17]


In a college campus survey, 91% of the women admitted to controlling their weight through dieting.


Over 50% of teenage girls use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.


81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.

[1] Arcelus, J., Mitchell, A. J., Wales, J., & Nielsen, S. (2011). Mortality rates in patients with Anorexia Nervosa and other eating disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(7), 724-731.

[2] Sullivan, PF. (1995). Mortality in anorexia nervosa. Am J Psychiatry, 152(7), 1073-4.

[3] Hudson J. I., Hiripi E., Pope H. G. Jr., & Kessler R. C. (2007). The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.Biological Psychiatry, 61, 348-358.

[4] Wade, T. D., Keski-Rahkonen A., & Hudson J. (2011).Epidemiology of eating disorders. In M. Tsuang and M. Tohen (Eds.), Textbook inPsychiatric Epidemiology (3rd ed.) (pp. 343-360). New York: Wiley.

[5] Harrop, E. N., &Marlatt, G. A. (2010). The comorbidity of substance use disorders and eating disorders in women: prevalence, etiology, and treatment. Addictive Behaviors, 35, 392-398.

[6] Mangweth, B., Hudson, J. I., Pope, H. G. Jr., Hausmagn, A., DeCol, C., Laird, N. M., …Tsuang, M.T. (2003). Family study of the aggregation of eating disorders and mood disorders.Psychological Medicine, 33, 1319-1323.

[7] McElroy, S. L. O., Kotwal, R., & Keck, P. E. Jr. (2006). Comorbidity of eating disorders with bipolar disorder and
treatment implications. Bipolar Disorders, 8, 686-695.

[8] Altman, S. E., &Shankman, S. A. (2009). What is the association between obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders? Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 638-646.

[9] Collins, M. E. (1991). Body figure perceptions and preferences among pre-adolescent children.International Journal of Eating Disorders, 10(2), 199-208.

[10] Mellin, L., McNutt, S., Hu, Y., Schreiber, G. B., Crawford, P., &Obarzanek, E. (1997). A longitudinal study of the dietary practices of black and white girls 9 and 10 years old at enrollment: The NHLBI growth and health study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 20(1), 27-37.

[11] Gustafson-Larson, A. M., & Terry, R. D. (1992).Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth-grade children.Journal of American Dietetic Association, 818-822.

[12] Boutelle, K., Neumark-Sztainer, D.,Story, M., &Resnick, M. (2002).Weight control behaviors 
among obese, overweight, and nonoverweight adolescents. Journal of Pediatric Psychology,27,531-540.

[13] Neumark-Sztainer, D., &Hannan, P. (2001). Weight-related behaviors among adolescent girls and boys: A national survey. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 154, 569-577.

[14] Wertheim, E., Paxton, S., &Blaney, S. (2009).Body image in girls.In L. Smolak & J. K.
Thompson (Eds.), Body image, eating disorders, and obesity in youth: Assessment, prevention, and treatment (2nd ed.) (pp. 47-76). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

[15] Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2005). I’m, Like, SO Fat!.New York: Guilford.

[16] Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2005). I’m, Like, SO Fat!.New York: Guilford.

[17] Oldenhave, Anna, Jennifer Muschter, Nynke Terpstra, and Greta Noordenbos. (2002). Characteristics and treatment of patients with chronic eating disorders. Eating Disorders, 10(1), 15-29.