An eating disorder (ED), such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder, refers to the presentation of unhealthy eating habits that are sustained and at a level of severity which impedes on an individual’s physical and mental health, social life and psychological well-being. Severe distress and preoccupation regarding body weight and/or shape, and consequentially maladaptive methods to manage weight or food intake also define an eating disorder.
Eating disorders often coincide with other psychiatric disorders, particularly depression, self-harm, substance abuse or anxiety disorders. The disorder has also been shown to affect both genders, although women and girls are at a higher risk, approximately 2 times greater, than men and boys (National Comorbidity Survey- Adolescent Supplement). Regardless of gender, the lifetime prevalence rates of developing three of the most common eating disorders, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder, was 0.3%, 0.9% and 1.6% respectively (Merikangas et al., 2010). Developing an eating disorder is at its most prevalent during adolescence and young adulthood, however it may also develop during childhood or later in life (NHANES, CDC). Building awareness of eating disorders among adolescents remains an important endeavor as it is often associated with functional impairment (97%, 78%, and 68% respectively), and national surveys have established an association with suicidal ideation and attempts.
For more information on eating disorders – their associated symptoms, risk factors and what we can do to help, please refer to our information sheet below: