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Essential Eating Disorder Facts

written by: Carma Haley Shoemaker • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 1/13/2011

Eating disorders affect one in every twenty Americans. If it's not you, it's probably someone you know. This article offers you 10 essential eating disorder facts designed to give you a deeper insight into these mental health conditions.

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    Top 10 Essential Eating Disorder Facts

    1. Many bulimics will spend fifty dollars or more per day on food – every day. In addition, they will hide their purchases in places where they cannot be found by others so that they can eat in hiding. To avoid being recognized, food trips may be done in neighboring towns or cities, sometimes as far away as 50 miles.

    2. Up to one-third of bulimic patients report that they have regularly engaged in shoplifting. Many state that the items shoplifted were for a binging episode.

    3. A normal teenager in today’s society eats approximately 2,100 to 3,500 calories a day. Some bulimics and binge-eaters report episodes where up to 25,000 calories have been consumed in binges that lasted up to 8 hours.

    4. Those with eating disorders may do whatever is necessary to avoid eating in public or with family. This may include lying about work or prior engagements, or picking fights or arguments – even to the point of physical violence – in order to have an excuse not to attend.

    5. Men make up a total of 5-10 percent of those with an eating disorder. The men who are most likely to develop an eating disorder are those who participate in activities such as dancing (ballet), gymnastics, wrestling, weight lifting, boxing, or ice skating.

    6. Eating disorders are most common among teens and young adults. However, the number of children between the ages of 6 to 11 who develop eating disorders has been increasing rapidly the past few years. There has also been an increase in the development or relapse of an eating disorder in women ages 40-49.

    7. It was thought the majority of woman affected by eating disorders were Caucasian. According to a report published by Nova Online, Latina women have similar attitudes about dieting and weight control. These studies indicate similar rates for both Caucasian and Latina females. In addition, the community-based study indicated that African-American women report using laxatives, diuretics, and practice fasting in order to avoid weight gain far more than Caucasian women.

    8. Of all those who undergo treatment for some type of eating disorder, only 60 percent make a full recovery. Up to 20 percent will make a partial recovery, allowing them to overcome their disorder enough that they can maintain employment and often times a relationship, but still struggle daily with food issues and unhealthy eating habits. The remaining 20 percent often make no progress toward any type of recovery, remaining at high risk for major health issues and complications related to eating disorders.

    9. According to the American Psychiatric Association, of those who suffer from an eating disorder, but do not receive treatment or make any type of recovery, approximately one-tenth of them will die from a heart attack or heart failure.

    10. Our final eating disorder fact is about potential complications resulting from eating disorders which can include: dehydration; appearance of a fine, downy type hair on all parts of the body; heart arrhythmias (irregular heart beats); kidney damage or failure; stomach ulcers; rupture of the stomach or esophagus; osteoporosis (weakened or brittle bones); tooth damage and/or loss; hormone level irregularities (women may stop menstruating); cardiac arrest; and/or death.

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    Resources

    National Institute of Mental Health. Eating Disorders. (August 2010). Retrieved from www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/eatingdisorders.cfm January 8, 2011.

    The National Women’s Health Information Center. Body Image: Loving Your Body Inside and Out. (September 2009). Retrieved from www.4woman.gov/bodyimage/eatingdisorders/ January 8, 2011.

    Nova Online. Dying to Be Thin. (December 2000). Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/thin/minorities.html January 9, 2011.

    American Psychiatric Association. (December 2009). Retrieved from http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/site/misc/terms.xhtml January 11, 2011.