The prevalence of eating disorders among American women is high and rising. A lot of people feel insecure with their body, especially when it comes to their weight. While most people will take up dieting, exercising, and the use of weight loss products to try to slim down, some other people will go to greater extremes.
Eating disorders are surprisingly common, and they are serious conditions that affect a lot of women in America who strive to attain the “perfect” body. To learn more about the prevalence of eating disorders in American women, continue reading.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please do not feel as though you are alone. Get the help that you need from a medical professional who can give you the tools and assistance required to get yourself back to a state of health in both body and mind.
Eating Disorders That Impact American Women
Most people are aware that some women are simply too thin. These women can receive the same rude remarks about their weight that overweight women can get. Some of these women are naturally thin, and that is evident if you see the rest of their family. However, others have eating disorders. The most common are bulimia and anorexia. While not thought of as an eating disorder as often, binge eating is another. This is like bulimia but the person does not throw up, they simply put on weight at a rapid pace. These disorders may be more common than you think.
The Prevalence of Eating Disorders in American Women Might Surprise You
If you are skeptical about the prevalence of eating disorders in American women of all ages, looking at statistics can help shed some much-needed light on this topic. Check out the numbers below to see what we mean.
A Few Interesting Stats to Get Started
According to the National Eating Disorders Association:
- At any point in time, anywhere from 0.3% to 0.4% of young women suffer from anorexia, while 1% of young women meet the criteria for being diagnosed with bulimia
- A study focusing on Division 1 NCAA athletes found that more than 1/3 of the women had symptoms and attitudes that would put them at risk of becoming anorexic
- Most of the athletes who have an eating disorder are women
More stats and info:
Eating disorders are on the rise, or it might be that they are more widely reported today than they were in the past. According to the Academy For Eating Disorders, 0.5 to 1 percent of teenage and adult women have anorexia nervosa. Also, 1 to 2 percent of the same age group has bulimia nervosa. Almost ten percent of that age group shows at least one symptom of an eating disorder but may not be fully diagnosed with having a full blown eating disorder.
In a survey conducted by SELF Magazine and published in 2008, it was found that “Sixty-five percent of American women between the ages of 25 and 45 report having disordered eating behaviors”. These disordered eating behaviors range from anorexia and bulimia to skipping meals and dieting using unhealthy methods, such as starvation diets and laxatives.
What Causes Eating Disorders and the Prevalence of Eating Disorders in American Women?
What is causing all of these eating disorders in American women? Experts have determined that idealizing thin bodies has become the biggest environmental contributor that affects women to the point that they develop an eating disorder.
Other causes include a person’s genetics, as some individuals might actually have genes that boost the risk of eventually developing an eating disorder at some point in their life.
Biological factors might also play a role in whether someone ends up experiencing an eating disorder or not. If there are any changes in certain brain chemicals, for example, an eating disorder might result.
Emotional health and psychological health should not be ignored either. That’s because people who have eating disorders might be exhibiting these destructive behaviors because they have underlying emotional or psychological problems like impulsive behavior, perfectionism, poor quality relationships, and low self-esteem, as a few examples.
Recovery from Eating Disorders Might Be Possible with the Right Approach
Whether a teenage girl or adult woman can recover from an eating disorder depends on how severe the problem may be and how early they are diagnosed and receive treatment. It is estimated that approximately 50% of patients with anorexia or bulimia will recover from their condition if they get treatment. About 30 to 33% recover to some degree, and the remaining percentage will not recover and will remain ill to the determent of their health.
In a publication from 1995, it is estimated that 50,000 people die as a result of their eating disorder. That estimate is almost 15 years old, so the numbers may or may not be higher. Many do not report their eating disorders due to embarrassment or because they refuse to believe they have a problem and do not want any help. Don’t forget that men are also prone to eating disorders, though the percentage is not as high as with women.
It’s Important to Recognize Eating Disorders and Take Action
Remember that many eating disorders start when a child is young, but they can also manifest themselves later in life. It is a combination of wanting to remain thin, skewed body image, and the need to feel in control of something. Family and friends of someone with an eating disorder should approach the situation with care and understanding. Just telling someone to eat more won’t or telling them they are too thin won’t do the trick. Instead, seek the advice from an organization that specializes in understanding and treating eating disorders, such as the National Eating Disorders Association. Don’t wait until it’s too late.