Eating Disorder Facts, Statistics, and Insight
Eating disorders are consistently gaining more recognition as severe mental illnesses. With more awareness, patients with eating disorders may access help before the effects of their conditions become irreversible. Below are recent eating disorder statistics from Canada and around the world.
1. Eating disorder prevalence is higher than what is documented
- Approximately 1 million Canadians have an eating disorder diagnosis
- Eating disorders affect at least 9% of the population worldwide
- Less than 6% of people with eating disorders are medically diagnosed as “underweight”
- Athletes may be more likely to screen positive for an eating disorder
2. Anorexia and bulimia affect women more, while Binge Eating Disorder affects both genders equally
- About 90% of people diagnoses with anorexia and bulimia are women
- Subclinical eating disorders inclusive of purging, laxative use, and fasting are equally common amongst men and women
- 28 – 74% risk of eating disorder through genetic heritability
3. Eating disorders are potentially fatal
- Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness
- About 26% of people with eating disorders attempt suicide
- Eating disorders results in a death every 52 minutes
- Males represent 25% of the individuals with Anorexia, but they are at a higher risk of dying – parts in parcel to receiving a late diagnosis later
4. Adolescents and young adults are at a higher risk of developing eating disorders
- Between 12 – 30% of girls, and 9 – 25% of boys aged 10 – 14 report dieting to lose weight
- The incidence of eating disorders in children is 2 – 4x greater than Type 2 Diabetes
- 42% of 1st to 3rd grade girls wants to be thinner
- 91% of women in post-secondary education are admitted to controlling their weight through dieting
5. Eating disorders often co-occur with other mental illnesses.
- Approximately 56% of those with Anorexia, 95% of those with Bulimia, and 78% of those with BED meet the criteria for at least one other mental health diagnosis
- Anxiety disorder is the most common co-occurring mental health diagnosis
- Approximately 42% of those with Anorexia, 70% of those with Bulimia, and 46% of those with BED also have a depressive disorder diagnosis
Anorexia is a restrictive eating disorder, marked with severe caloric restriction often resulting in a dangerously low body weight. People with anorexia have a tremendous fear of weight gain and a distorted perception of their body.
Bulimia is a condition characterized by bingeing and purging. A person will eat a large amount of food in a short period of time and will feel out of control while doing so. As a means to compensate for this, they will purge – either through self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, laxative or diuretic use.
Orthorexia is an obsession or fixation with “healthy” or “clean” foods. People with orthorexia take “healthy” eating to risky extremes. They are driven by a desire to only consume “pure”, “healthy” food and develop an irrational fear of any food considered “unclean”.
Binge Eating Disorder
This is an eating disorder exhibited through recurring episodes of eating uncontrolled, large quantities of food in a short period of time to the level of discomfort often in the absence of hunger.
Related Article: Eating Disorder Facts and Canadian Statistics
Q: Why is anorexia more common in females than males?
A: According to Double Bunnell, Ph.D. and Clinical Psychologist, anorexia is more common in women than men because of the complex interaction between “the biology of being female, the biology of being female at puberty, as people go through the phase of life, and the cultural factors.”. The objectification and sexualization of women and cultures that promote thin bodies is also a risk factor for psychiatric illness.
Q: Why does bulimia affect less men than women?
A: Epidemiological studies have shown that anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are more common among females than males.1,2 It is of note, however, that the gender disparity is reversed for subthreshold binge eating disorder (0.6% women and 1.9% men) and prevalence of “any binge eating” is roughly comparable in women (4.9%) and men (4.0%).3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2696560/#:~:text=Epidemiological%20studies%20have%20shown%20that,common%20among%20females%20than%20males.
It is also important to note that the stigma surrounding eating disorders is high, but the stigma surrounding men with eating disorders is even higher. Therefore, there is not an accurate picture of males with eating disorders as they are often under reported, under treated, and misdiagnosed.
Q: Which disorder is more dangerous in Canadian conditions?
A: Canadian conditions do not dictate the severity or danger associated with any particular eating disorder.
Q: What is the mortality rate of Bulimia in Canada?
A: The mortality rate for all eating disorders in Canada is estimated to be between 10 -15%.
Q: How long does anyone suffer from bulimia?
A: It is estimated that individuals suffer from bulimia on average for four and a half years.
Q: Are eating disorders and mental illnesses correlated?
A: Yes. Eating disorders are considered a mental illness. Eating disorders are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This book is used by health professionals for assessment and diagnosis of mental disorders.
Questions You’re Too Afraid To Ask Someone With An Eating Disorder:
Support Groups + Websites
National Eating Disorder Information Center – https://nedic.ca/
National Institute of Mental Health – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders
Canadian Mental Health Association – https://cmha.ca/brochure/eating-disorders/
HereToHelp – https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/infosheet/eating-disorders
Eating Disorders: Every Body is Beautiful – https://eatingdisorders.com/