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Facts & Stats

While disordered eating can take many forms, there are several recognized disorders by the DSM-IV (the DSM-V will be released in May 2013). Individuals can satisfy a partial diagnosis. Many people may exhibit abnormal eating and dieting practices, which could lead to an eating disorder.

Disordered Eating:
– Is not an eating disorder but can lead to one.
– Due to an individual’s focus on food, weight, body shape, and size, an individual may adopt strict eating and exercise habits that compromise the individual’s health, happiness, and safety.
– Addressing disordered eating attitudes and behaviors can prevent eating disorders.

Eating Disorders in General:
– There is a strong connection between eating disorders and other types of addiction, such as alcoholism and drug addiction1.
– Athletes are at particularly high risk for eating disorders2.
– There is no single cause of an eating disorder3.

Anorexia Nervosa:
– Anorexia is defined in the DSM-IV as an individual who weighs only 85% of their projected normal body weight, demonstrates a fear of gaining weight, exhibits a disturbance in body perception, and in females, the cessation of menstruation 4.

– Although a larger percentage of anorexia cases are females, 10% of people with the eating disorder are male5, 6.

– Anorexia manifests in two forms: Restricting Type and Purging Type. Restricting Type is characterized as deliberate insufficient intake of calories. The Purging subtype involves compensatory behavior, such as laxatives, diuretics, or induced vomiting7.

– Physical signs of anorexia include brittle hair, yellow skin and nails, lanugo (fine body hair), and the cessation of menstruation8.

– Extended risks include osteoporosis due to amenorrhea, physical stress, and kidney failure9-10.

– Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Without treatment, 20%of people with eating disorders will die11.

– If one’s family member developed anorexia, the individual is 12 times more likely to develop the disorder12-13.

Bulimia Nervosa:
– Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a lack of control in eating. Bulimia episodes involve a large intake of food followed by inappropriate compensatory behavior. Compensatory behavior includes vomiting or the use of laxatives and diuretics14.

– Bulimic episodes can occur even when the individual does not feel hungry15.

– Bulimia is often accompanied by guilt and feeling uncomfortably full16.

– Bulimia can lead to tears in the esophagus, electrolyte imbalance, eroded fingernails from vomiting, tooth decay, gastrointestinal problems and other complications17, 18, 19.

Binge Eating Disorder (Under: Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified):

– In contrast to bulimia, binge eating disorder is characterized by large binge episodes without compensation20.

– Binge eating disorder is characterized by a lack of control during eating followed by feelings of guilt21.

– Health risks of BED include increased blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes22.

– Binge eating disorder is more common in individuals with obesity23.

– Binge eating disorder is believed to affect 1-5% of population24-25.

Not Otherwise Specified (Pica, Rumination, Other):
Other non-specified disorders fall into this category including pica and rumination. Pica often occurs in childhood. Pica summarizes the desire to consume substances not considered to be food, such as chalk. It is often correlated with vitamin deficiency and has been found in pregnant women26. Rumination is the practice of regurgitating food and re-masticating. Rumination often occurs in infancy and in those who are mentally disabled27.

Disordered eating, in all forms, has serious health consequences. Dieting and disordered eating reflect an unhealthy relationship with food. This relationship needs to be addressed in order to establish healthy eating practices and meet nutritional needs. All disordered eating practices are considered to be serious and need attention, regardless of whether they fall into the categories described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM IV).