Eating Disorder Statistics

How do YOU define a healthy lifestyle?

Below you will find a complete list of eating disorder statistics.  The numbers are staggering, but highlight the fact that eating disorders are more common than the general public thinks.  Spread the word to anyone who will listen so that no one else falls through the cracks.

1 in 5 women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating.

National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH) guide, Eating Disorders: Facts About Eating Disorders and the Search for Solutions


Eating Disorders affect up to 24 million Americans and 70 million individuals worldwide.

The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, Eating Disorders 101 Guide: A Summary of Issues, Statistics and Resources, published September 2002, revised October 2003, http://www.renfrew.org.


An estimated 10 to 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.

Carlat, D.J. Camargo. Review of Bulimia in Males. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 1997


At least 50,000 individuals will die as a direct result of an eating disorder.


It is estimated that currently 11% of high school students have been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

ANAD Ten Year Study. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. www.anad.org


15% of young women in the US who are not diagnosed with an eating disorder display substantially disordered eating attitudes and behaviors.

Girl Power!, a public education program of the US Department of Health and Human Services.


A Study conducted by Cornell University found that 40% of male football players surveyed engaged in some sort of disordered eating behavior.(Newsweek, 1994)


The most common behavior that will lead to an eating disorder is dieting.

Natalia Zunino, Ph.D, of American Anorexia and Bulimia Association, Inc.


The diet and diet related industry is a 50 billion dollar a year enterprise.

Garner, D.W., Wooley, S.C. (1991), "Confronting the failure of behavioral and dietary treatments for obesity." Clinical Psychology Review, 11, pp. 727-780.


35% of "normal dieters" progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full syndrome eating disorders.

Shisslak, C.M., Crago, M., & Estes, L.S. (1995). The spectrum of eating disturbances. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 18 (3), 209-219.


According to a recent study, over 1/2 the females between the ages of 18-25 would prefer to be run over by a truck then be fat, and 2/3 surveyed would rather be mean or stupid.

Gaesser, G. (1996), Big Fat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight and Your Health. New York: Fawcett Columbine.


51% of 9 and 10 year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet.  

Mellin LM, Irwin CE & Scully S: Disordered eating characteristics in girls: A survey of middle class children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1992; 92:851-53


42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).

Collins M.E. (1991) Body figure and preferences among pre-adolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 199-208.


46% of 9-11 year-olds are "sometimes" or "very often" on diets, and 82% of their families are "sometimes" or "very often" on diets. (Gustafson-Larson & Terry, 1992). 

Gustafson-Larson, A., & Terry, R.D. (1992). Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth-grade children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 92, 818-822.


81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. 51% of 9 and 10 year old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet.

Mellin LM, Irwin CE & Scully S: Disordered eating characteristics in girls: A survey of middle class children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1992; 92:851-53.


Time Magazine reports that 80% of all children have been on a diet by the time that they have reached the fourth grade.


2 out of 5 women and 1 out of 5 men would trade 3 to 5 years of their life to achieve their goal body weight.(Rader Programs)


91 % of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting, 22% dieted "often" or "always".

Kurth CL, Krahn DD, Nairn K & Drewnowski A: The severity of dieting and bingeing behaviors in college women: Interview validation of survey data. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 1995; 29(3):211-25.


The average woman is 5'4" and weighs 140 pounds. The average model is 5'11" and weighs 117 pounds. Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women.

Smolak L. (1996). National Eating Disorders Association/Next Door Neighbors puppet guide book.


If today's mannequins were actual human women, based on theoretical body fat percentages, they would probably cease to menstruate.

Rader Programs. www.raderprograms.com.


Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents.

Public Health Service's Office in Women's Health, Eating Disorder Information Sheet, 2000.


A young woman with anorexia is 12 times more likely to die than other women her age without anorexia.

Mortality in Anorexia Nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152(7), 1073-1074.


Five to ten percent of anorexics die within ten years of onset, 18-20 percent die within twenty years of onset, and only 50 percent report ever being cured.

American Psychiatric Association (1993), "Practice Guidelines for Eating Disorders." American Journal of Psychiatry, 150 (2), pp 212-228.


20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.

The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, "Eating Disorders 101 Guide: A Summary of Issues, Statistics and Resources," published September 2002, revised October 2003, www.renfrew.org.


Up to 19% of college aged women in America are bulimic.

Rader Programs. www.raderprograms.com.


Bulimia often occurs in athletes such as gymnasts, wrestlers, dancers, horse jockeys, football players, and runners.

2% - 5 % of the American population experience Binge Eating Disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. Eating Disorders NIH Publication No. 94-3477 Rockville, MD, 1994


Men constitute 40% of those exhibiting Binge Eating Disorder.

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Ed. (DSM-IV). Washington DC, 1994.


Without treatment, up to 20% of people with serious eating disorders die. With treatment, the mortality rate falls to 2-3%.


Only 1 in 10 people with eating disorders receive treatment.


According to eating disorders statistics, about 80% of the girls/women who have accessed care for their eating disorders do not get the intensity of treatment they need to stay in recovery.


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Contact us with any questions about eating and behavioral health issues. You or someone you know may be in need of outpatient or residential eating disorder treatment.

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Jennifer Pereira MA, RD, LD, CSCS, LPC - WISE Therapist & Dietitian

Do you have a problem?

1. Do you worry that you have lost control over how much you eat?

2. Do you make yourself sick (or use laxatives/exercise) if you feel uncomfortably full?

3. Do you currently suffer with or suffered in the past with eating issues?

4. Do you ever eat in secret?

5. Does your weight affect how you feel about yourself?


If you answered yes to any of these questions, or if you are not satisfied with your current eating patterns, contact us for more information.