Three Out Of Four American Women Have Disordered Eating

A common
misconception about eating disorders is that eating disorders are limited to anorexia
and bulimia. Peoples visual perceptions of eating disroders are also very
misconceived believing that someone with anorexia and bulimia should physically
appear gaunt and malnourished. To clarify, eating disorders range from anorexia,
bulimia, diabulimia, pregorexia, exercise-bulimia and compulsive overeating. At
times a person with an eating disorder can vascilate between all of these
depending on their condition. In regards to weight, many eating disorder
suffers do not look gaunt and slender. Depending on the persons body type, a
person can be physically malnourished with their body ready to go into cardiac
arrest and yet look healthy with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI.) These
misconceptions explain why so many people are shocked to hear that three out of
four women have eating disorders. Eating disorders are a mental illness and
more often than not, can not be visually detected.

3 our of 4 women have eating disorders

A study by ScienceDailyshowed sixty-five percent of American women from 25 to 45 report
having disordered eating behaviors, according to the results of a new survey by
Self Magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina (UNC) at
Chapel Hill.

An additional 10% of women report symptoms consistent with eating
disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating  disorder, meaning that a total of 75 percent
of American women surveyed endorse some unhealthy thoughts, feelings or
behaviors related to food and/ or their bodies.

“Our survey found that these behaviors cut across racial and
ethnic lines and are not limited to any one group,” said Cynthia R. Bulik,
Ph.D., William and Jeanne Jordan Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders in
the UNC School of Medicine’s department of psychiatry and director of the UNC
Eating Disorders Program. “Women identified their ethnic backgrounds as
Hispanic or Latina, white, black or African American and Asian were all
represented among the women who reported disordered eating behaviors.”

“What we found most surprising was the unexpectedly high
number of women who engage in unhealthy purging (bulimic) activities,” said
Bulik, who is also a nutrition professor in the School of Public Health. “More
than 31% of women in the survey reported that in an attempt to lose weight they
had induced vomiting or had taken laxatives, diuretics or diet pills at some
point in their life. Among these women, more than 50% engaged in purging
activities at least a few times a week and many did so every day.”

Although the type of disordered eating behaviors the survey
uncovered didn’t necessarily have potentially lethal consequences of heart
attacks like anorexia or bulimia nervosa, women report they are associated with
emotional and physical distress. And despite the stereotype that eating issues
affect mostly young women, the survey found that those in their 30s and 40s
report disordered eating at virtually the same rates. Findings show that:

  • 75% of
    women report disordered eating or symptoms consistent with eating
    disorders; so three out of four have an unhealthy relationship with food
    or their bodies
  • 67% of
    women are trying to lose weight
  • 53% of
    dieters are already at a healthy weight and are still trying to lose
  • 39% of
    women say concerns about what they eat or weigh interfere with their
  • 37% regularly
    skip meals to try to lose weight
  • 27%
    would be extremely upset if they gained just five pounds
  • 26% cut
    out entire food groups
  • 16% have
    dieted on 1,000 calories a day or fewer
  • 13% smoke
    to lose weight
  • 12% often
    eat when they’re not hungry; 49% sometimes do

Eating habits that women think are normal, such as banishing
carbohydrates, skipping meals and in some cases extreme dieting, may actually
be symptoms of disordered eating.

The online survey garnered responses from 4,023 women who
answered detailed questions about their eating habits. Please take this
information and share it with your friends. Let them know that their extreme dieting
and obsession over their physical appearance can turn into a life threatening
illness if their not careful.

Happy Recovery,


Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

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