10 Facts About Eating Disorders

Stepping on the scale frequently can be a warning sign of weight obsession.
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Eating Disorders Fact 1. Eating disorders strike more than 7 million American women each year, and 1,000 of those will die from complications of anorexia nervosa. Up to 80 percent of female college students have reported binge eating, a predecessor to bulimia. Ninety percent of those suffering from eating disorders are women.


2: Eating Disoders Form Early

Eating disorders begin early — usually during the teenage years — and can develop as early as age 12. Age 17 is the average age they develop. Between five and 10 percent of young women suffer from an eating disorder.


3: Women with Anorexia Have Low Self-Esteem

Many who suffer from an unhealthy body image.
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Women with anorexia, though often well-liked and admired for their competence, constantly strive to seek approval, and actually have very low self-esteem and feel inadequate. They use food and dieting as ways of coping with life's stresses.



4: Eating Disorders Must be Treated

An eating disorder will not go away without treatment. Eating disorders are mental illnesses that can be deadly if not treated and are difficult to recover from; however, many women have recovered successfully and gone on to live full and satisfying lives.


5: Anoxeria Can Be Treated With or Without Medication

doctor talking to patient
Talk to your doctor if you think you may have an eating disorder.
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Treatment for eating disorders encompasses a mixture of strategies, including psychological counseling, nutritional counseling, family therapy and, in some cases, antidepressant medications.


6: Women with Bulimia are Likely to Have Depression

There is a high incidence of depression among women suffering from bulimia, thus the effectiveness of antidepressants can be demonstrated in treatment of the disorder. But antidepressants alone, without cognitive-behavioral therapy, have only an 18 percent success rate.


7: Anorexia Can Cause Osteoporosis

broken bone
Some eating disorders can cause your bones to weaken and could lead to osteoporosis.
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The self-starvation of anorexia can cause anemia; shrunken organs; low blood pressure; slowed metabolism and reflexes; bone mineral loss, which can lead to osteoporosis; and irregular heartbeat, which can lead to cardiac arrest.



8: Binging & Purging Lead to Serious Health Problems

The binging and purging of bulimia can lead to liver, kidney and bowel damage; tooth erosion; a ruptured esophagus; and electrolyte imbalance that can lead to irregular heartbeat, which can lead to cardiac arrest.


9: Eating Disorders Increases Risk for Fatal Diseases

Heart attack
Many disorders can lead to serious medical problems.
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The overeating, or binging, of bulimia nervosa can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gall bladder disease, diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.



10: Know Yourself

You should be aware of how you think about all the components that make up your self-image; if your self-image becomes too reliant on looking thin, you should consider how that may be laying the groundwork for an eating disorder. Examine your own attitude about your body, and make sure that it is one of healthy acceptance.

Copyright 2003 National Women's Health Resource Center, Inc. (NWHRC)