Dying To Be Thin…
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, in the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Millions more are struggling with binge eating disorders. Due to the stigma associated with these disorders, many more go unreported.
In the 1960s and 1970s, when most of the research on eating disorders began, experts felt that young girls were the primary group affected and branded the disorders as a “teenage disease”. Disturbingly, the number of young women diagnosed with eating disorders has not waned at any time since then.
Additionally, other groups are showing alarming rises in diagnoses:
Women in their late twenties, thirties, and forties: At the Renfrew Center’s 11 treatment locations, the number of patients over age 35 has skyrocketed 42 percent in the past decade. Likewise, a couple of years ago at the Eating Recovery Center in Denver, an estimated 10 percent of patients were over age 25; today, a whopping 46 percent are over 30. And when it opened in 2003, the University of North Carolina’s Eating Disorders Program was designed for adolescents—now half of its patients are over 30 years old.
Men: The National Eating Disorder Association reports that one million men suffer from an eating disorder, but only 10 percent of those men seek treatment. A study of 135 males hospitalized with an eating disorder noted that the males with bulimia felt ashamed of having a stereotypically “female” disorder, which might explain their delay in seeking treatment. Binge eating disorders may be less recognized in males because an overeating male is less likely to receive the same attention as an overeating female.
Much like the politics in the United States, eating disorders have long been a two-party system, Anorexia and Bulimia. In the early 1990s, the American Psychiatric Association introduced a new diagnostic category, Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOA). Although they were atypical at the time, EDNOA diagnoses now outnumber those for both Anorexia and Bulimia. Here are a few you may not be familiar with:
The new disorder: Orthorexia
What it is: A fixation with healthy or righteous eating, to the point of obsession.
The new disorder: Pregorexia
What it is: Extreme dieting and exercising while pregnant to avoid gaining the 25 to 35 pounds of weight doctors usually recommend
The new disorder: Binge Eating
What it is: Compulsive overeating, often to deal with negative emotions or stress
The new disorder: Anorexia Athletica
What it is: An addiction to exercise
The new disorder: Drunkorexia
What it is: Restricting food intake in order to reserve those calories for alcohol and binge drinking
If you or someone you know needs help or would like to talk to someone about eating disorders, there are places you can turn:
These sites also provide additional information regarding research, diagnosis, treatment, resources and what you can do to help.