45 Alarming Eating Disorder Statistics

Eating disorders can affect any person of any age. There are many reasons why an eating disorder may start as well. For some, it may be because of simple boredom. Others may be self-conscious of their appearance. There may even be a psychological need to eat that mimics the symptoms of a dependency addiction.

Many times, the symptoms of an eating disorder are simply ignored. The desire to eat or not eat in an unusual way is treated as a stressful condition or some other temporary issue. Yet there are deeper concerns which often need to be addressed in order to treat the eating disorder. By understanding these eating disorder statistics and helping those who need to seek treatment for it when the symptoms are recognized, the prevalence of this health issue may be reduced.

Statistics About Eating Disorders

1. Up to 30 million people of all ages and gender suffer from an eating disorder in the United States. It is a mental health concern that affects all races, ethnic groups, socioeconomic statuses, and other grouping factors. (ANAD)

2. Every 62 minutes, at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder. (ANAD)

3. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. (ANAD)

4. Up to 13% of women who are over the age of 50 are suffering from an eating disorder at any given time. (ANAD)

5. 16% of transgender college students are believed to be suffering from an eating disorder at any given time. (ANAD)

6. A study of active duty military personnel shows that 5.5% of women and 4% of men had a current eating disorder. Within a few years of continued service, an additional 3.3% of women and 2.6% of men reported the development of an eating disorder.

7. About 1% of American women will suffer from anorexia nervosa at some point in their lives. (ANAD)

8. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from an eating disorder at any given time. (NEDA)

9. By age 6, girls begin to express concerns about their own shape or weight. Up to 60% of elementary school girls under the age of 12 are concerned about becoming too fat, which is a feeling that can persist for an entire lifetime. (NEDA)

10. 20% of those who die because of the symptoms of anorexia nervosa do so through suicide. (ANAD)

11. Up to 80% of the risks that exist for both anorexia and bulimia are genetic, with environmental factors also influencing behavioral choices. (ANAD/NEDA)

12. About half of those who are suffering from anorexia will have anxiety disorders, compulsive disorders, and/or social phobias. (ANAD)

13. People who are in the 18-29, 30-44, and 45-59 age demographics are significantly more likely than 60+ year olds to be suffering from an eating disorder. (NIMH)

14. In a 12-month prevalence of all US adults, 1.2% reported having an eating disorder. (NIMH)

15. There is a 2.8% lifetime prevalence of eating disorders for US adults. (NIMH)

16. The average American woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds, but the average American model is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs just 117 pounds. (NEDA)

17. Up to 1.5% of American women will suffer from bulimia nervosa in their lifetime. Nearly half of those who do experience bulimia will also have a comorbid mood disorder. (ANAD)

18. Up to 10% of bulimia patients have a substance abuse disorder, which is usually alcohol use. (ANAD)

19. The rate of development of new cases of eating disorders has increased every year since 1950. (NEDA)

20. The incidence of bulimia in 10-39-year-old women tripled between 1988-1993. (NEDA)

21. Eating disorders receives a fraction of the research funding that other mental health issues receive. In 2011, $27 million in NIH research funds was given to help find treatment options for the 30 million people who suffer from this illness. In comparison, $276 million in NIH funds were given to help the 3.4 million people suffering from schizophrenia. (NEDA)

22. 82% of Americans believed that an eating disorder is a physical or mental illness and should be treated as such. (NEDA)

23. 12% of US adults believed that eating disorders are related to issues that involve vanity. (NEDA)

24. 70% of Americans believe that if the media and advertisers used average people in their marketing efforts, it would have a positive effect on the prevalence of eating disorders. (NEDA)

25. 86% of US parents want schools to provide information about eating disorders to children and families. (NEDA)

26. 8 out of 10 Americans believed that if more research on eating disorders occurred every year, more effective treatments could be developed to reduce or prevent future eating disorder issues. (NEDA)

27. 42% of girls in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade state that they want to be thinner. (NEDA)

28. 1 in 4 elementary school girls are dieting regularly and can talk effectively about calorie restriction and food choices. (NEDA)

29. 81% of girls who are 10 years old are afraid of becoming fat. (NEDA)

30. Nearly half of children in the US who are 9-11 years old are on diets either “sometimes” or “very often.” 82% of their families also describe their nutritional habits in such a way. (NEDA)

31. Even in girls who are clearly not overweight, over 1 in 3 say that they are actively dieting. (NEDA)

32. The average BMI of Miss America winners has decreased from about 22 in the 1920s to 16.9 in the 2000s. A normal BMI for women is between 18.5-24.9. (WHO)

33. 95% of those who are on a diet right now will regain the weight that they lost within 1-5 years. (NEDA)

34. 47% of elementary-aged girls who read magazines say that the pictures they see inside the publication make them want to lose weight. (NEDA)

35. 77% of those who have an eating disorder report that the symptoms can last anywhere from 1-15 years, and sometimes even longer. Up to now, only half of those who have an eating disorder report that they feel like they are fully cured. (Mirasol)

36. Studies indicated that within the first year of college, up to 18% of women and about 1% of men have a history of bulimia. (Mirasol)

37. About 1 in 10 people who suffer from anorexia nervous will die within 10 years of their first eating disorder incident. About 2 in 10 people with anorexia will have died from their eating disorder after 20 years. (Mirasol)

38. Without treatment up to 20% of people with serious eating disorders will die, but with treatment, the mortality rate drops to as low as 2%. (Mirasol)

39. Only 10% of people will every seek out treatment for their eating disorder. For those who do access care, up to 80% of women say that they do not receive the right level of intensity for their treatment, which stops their recovery. (Mirasol)

40. The treatment for an eating disorder in the United States can cost as much as $2,800 per day. The average cost of 30 days in an inpatient treatment program is $30,000. The average person with an eating disorder typically needs up to 6 months of inpatient care to overcome the health issue. (Mirasol)

41. Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness for adolescents. Up to 80% of all children say that they have been on at least one diet by the time they reached the 4th grade. (Mirasol/Time Magazine)

42. In total, there are over 115 million adults who are dieting at any given time, with 91% of college-aged women attempting to control their weight through dieting. 35% of those who diet “normally” will progress to pathological dieting, which then has a 1 in 4 chance of leading to an eating disorder. (Mirasol)

43. About 3% of American adults suffer from binge eating disorders in their lifetime. (ANAD)

44. About half of those with a binge eating disorder either have a mood disorder or anxiety disorder at the same time. Another 10% have a substance abuse disorder. (ANAD)

45. Up to 1 in 4 post-bariatric patients may suffer from binge eating or a loss of control in their eating habits. (ANAD)

Eating disorders can be a hidden struggle that many people endure on their own. It can cause people to isolate, give up friendships, and even stop talking to family as they work toward an unattainable self-esteem goal. There can be many pressures placed on people today to conform to a certain image. These pressures lead to anxiety, and that anxiety can cause a disorder to begin.

These eating disorder statistics show that it is more than just a problem with food. The food is used to control other feelings. By treating those feelings in a different way, it becomes possible to stop the eating disorder so that healthy eating habits can be re-established.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.