Published On: Thu, Jul 23rd, 2020

Eating Disorders in The United States: A 2020 Report

Eating disorders are one of the most misunderstood disorders today. Actions that lead to eating disorders are praised. Diet fads are normalized. The diet culture, including the use of diet pills and even laxatives, is mainstream. Body image is tied up with a very specific ideal, even with the current body-positive movement occurring. 

Understanding how common eating disorders are, as well as their effects on the American populace, highlights the severity of the issue. Furthermore, unhealthy behaviors are passed off as normal and even encouraged. This encouragement makes it difficult for those who need help with their eating disorder to even admit there is a problem. 

Eating disorders are also rarely alone, and many of those who suffer from eating disorders are also diagnosed with other psychological or mood disorders. Understanding eating disorders in the United States in 2020 can help agencies and the public better protect their health. 

Prevalence of Eating Disorders in the United States 

At any given time, there are an estimated 30 million people who suffer from an eating disorder in the United States of America. In 2020, in part, thanks to the pandemic, there has been a sharp increase in cases around the world. Every hour, someone will die from their disorder. In comparison to all other mental illnesses, eating disorders carry the highest mortality rate. They are dangerous and often praised. Those who suffer from eating disorders often only seek out help after they have been hospitalized due to their diet. 

There are a variety of risk factors for eating disorders as well, including genetics, environmental risks, and personality traits. Women and young adults are more likely to suffer from eating disorders but eating disorders amongst men are also very common. 

Photo/Gerd Altmann

The Dangers of Eating Disorders 

Eating disorders are very dangerous and even harder to overcome. Unless the patient has been hospitalized, there is often little incentive to change or seek out treatment. Early detection and treatment from clinics like Eden Treatment improve the recovery rate substantially, whereas those who only receive treatment after being forced to following hospitalization will more likely experience a relapse. 

Early detection and treatment are key, as eating disorders are deadly. 

Anorexia Nervosa 

In the United States, 0.9% of all women will experience anorexia. Anorexia nervosa, especially in its most serious stages, is extremely stressful on the body. Organs shut down, reproductive systems stop, and death is a possibility due to a bone break, malnourishment, and starvation. It isn’t just the body giving out that those suffering from anorexia need to concern themselves with, either. Amongst those with anorexia, 1 in 5 deaths will be due to suicide. 

This is because, in 30%-50% of cases, those with anorexia also present other disorders, from depression to OCD. Unlike different types of disorders, the most significant risk factor for anorexia is genetic. 

Bulimia Nervosa 

More women suffer from Bulimia nervosa, a total of 1.5% of the population. Though the death risk is lower, the damage bulimia causes on the body is also severe. Heart damage, esophagus damage, and dental damage can all lead to lasting health problems. 

Binge Eating Disorder 

The other common eating disorder is binge eating, which 2.8% of all Americans will experience at one point or another. Almost half will have another mood disorder (primarily anxiety), and 10% of patients also suffer from substance abuse. Binge eating also damages the body and can lead to excessive weight gain that causes permanent damage or even death. 

Author: Carol Trehean

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  1. Roy says:

    That sounds awful

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