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Facts About Eating Disorders

Updated on May 25, 2017

Facts about Eating Disorders

What are Eating Disorders?
• Eating disorders are complex diseases and conditions that causes a strain on health, relationships, and effectiveness.

• Eating disorders can be a life-threatening condition that affects a person’s emotional and physical well being.

• Eating disorders include but not limited to anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.

• Someone with an eating disorder should seek professional help to increases the probability of successful treatments.

Eating Disorders in United States

• Eating disorders are more prevalent in women than men.

• The rate of development of new cases of eating disorders has been increasing since 1950 (Hudson et al. 344; Streigel-Moore &Franko 20; Wade et al. 344).

• There has been a rise in incidence of anorexia in young women ages 15-19 in each decade since 1930 (Hoek& van Hoeken 383).

• The incidence of bulimia in 10-39 year old women TRIPLED between 1988 and 1993 (Hoek& van Hoeken, 384).

• The prevalence of eating disorders is similar among Non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians in the United States, with the exception that anorexia nervosa is more common among Non-Hispanic Whites (Hudson et al. 343; Wade et al.,344).

• There are more than 11 million people suffering from eating disorders in the United States.

Eating Disorders among Men and Women
• Studies show that 25 percent of men suffer from eating disorders.

• In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder(Wade, Keski-Rahkoner 343).

• Eating disorders such as binge eating, fasting for weight loss, and purging, are nearly common in men as in women.

• Eating disorders are not gender specific.

• Studies show that are increase in number of eating disorders in men.

• A study of 2,822 students on a large university campus found that 3.6% of males had positive screens for ED. The female-to-male ratio was 3-to-1 (Eisenburg 448).

Social Problem in Eating Disorders: Convincing the Public

• Institutions in Psychology and Government are concerned with the use of thin models to promote goods and services.

• Increase in number of people with eating disorders has prompted discussion of policy actions to address this public issue.

• An Internet survey was fielded to a national sample of 944 US adults and 1,420 members of professional organizations specializing in eating disorders to examine their support for 23 potential policy strategies to address eating disorders and weight stigma (Puhl 1311).

• This particular survey suggests that both health and social policy actions will be important in broader policy initiatives to address eating disorders and weight stigma (Puhl 1310-1311).

Gender Role Socialization and Eating Disorders
• The exploration of gender role socialization contributes to the attitudes about one’s self image and care.

• Masculinity is the social construction of male genders which contributes to how men experience their bodies and relationships.

• Men’s developmental and social contexts strongly influence their self-perception, evaluation of their masculinity, and their behaviors (Pritchard 100).

• Women are taught that being thin is what society describes as beautiful.

• Women can expect to be judged for their looks if they dare to have a high-profile job: either too unattractive to be tolerated or too pretty to have anything worth saying (Penny 38).

• Gender and body image ideals do influence body image and this seems no less true for men than it is for women(Pritchard 100).

The Media and Eating Disorders
• The media confers hidden meanings on food – nostalgia, sexiness, being a good housewife and mother, rewarding oneself, having uninhibited fun etc., and creates unnatural drives for food (The National Centre for Eating Disorders Paragraph 28).

• The media can persuade the public that wrong eating habits are right and natural. (The National Centre for Eating Disorders Paragraph 28).

• The media can create anxieties about being deprived if people don’t have what “everyone else” is having” (The National Centre for Eating Disorders Paragraph 28).

• The media presents the public with an idealized shape which is invested with attributes of being attractive, desirable, successful, and loveable but which is unattainable without resorting to sinister or dangerous eating habits(The National Centre for Eating Disorders Paragraph 28).

• The media perpetuates the feeling in people who do not have the ideal shape that their life would be fine if they were slim(The National Centre for Eating Disorders Paragraph 28).

What can be done to address this social problem?
• Eating disorders should be advertised more often to address the issue.

• Public and Health officials should contribute more to this social issue.

• School curriculum should include knowledge about eating disorders and the causes.

• Training should be implanted on educators and health officials in early determination of eating disorders and preventions.

• Enforce anti-bullying policies in schools to prevent bullying of someone’s weight.
• Minimize media input of what an ideal body is consisted of.

• The media should use variety body shapes and sizes to advertise and promote goods and services.

Eating disorders are more common in our society than we may realize. Eating disorders takes a toll on our daily lives and relationships with others. Eating disorders are caused by mental distress and self esteem issues, that derives from the main stream media, music industry, etc. Those who are overweight tend to be mistreated and not considered to be beautiful, than those who are skinnier. The media and music industries tend to talk about how you are suppose to look on the outside, and not mentioning anything about beauty from within. What is considered beautiful? Beauty is only skin deep and it is not defined by how big or small you are. True beauty lies within and no one should be able to justify how beautiful we are by our outward appearance.


  1. Hoek, H. W., & van Hoeken, D. (2003). Review of the prevalence and incidence of eating
    disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 383-396.

  2. National Centre For Eating Disorders. 2012.
  3. Neumark-Sztainer D., Haines, J., Wall, M., & Eisenberg, M. Why does dieting predict
    weight gain in adolescents? Findings from project EAT-II: a 5-year longitudinal study.
    Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2007,448-55.
  4. Penny, Laurie. "I Don't Want to Be Told I'm Pretty as I Am. I Want to Live in a World Where
    That's Irrelevant." New Statesman, 03 May 2013, vol. 142, no. 5156, p. 38.
  5. Pritchard, Mary. "Disordered Eating in Undergraduates: Does Gender Role Orientation Influence Men and Women the Same Way?." Sex Roles, Aug. 2008 vol. 59, no. 3-4, pp. 99-102.
  6. Puhl, Rebecca M., et al. "Setting Policy Priorities to Address Eating Disorders and Weight
    Stigma: Views from the Field of Eating Disorders and the US General Public." BMC
    Public Health, June 2014, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 1310-1328.
  7. Streigel-Moore R. H.,&Franko D. L. Epidemiology of binge eating disorder.
    International Journal of Eating Disorders, 2003, 34.
  8. Wade, T. D., Keski-Rahkonen A., & Hudson J.”Epidemiology of eating disorders.” In
    M. Tsuang and M. Tohen (Eds.), Textbook in Psychiatric Epidemiology (3rd ed.) 2011,
    pp. 343-360. New York: Wiley.
  9. Zenner, Christy and Mary Pritchard. "What College Students Know about Breast Cancer and Eating Disorders." Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research, vol. 12, no. 3, Fall2007, pp. 131-134.

Do you believe that if the media and other sources, such as the music industry, did not exaggerate on what is beautiful and what is not,will eating disorders be prevalent in our society?

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© 2017 Chernika Lipscomb


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