Table of Contents
Understanding Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are a behavioral condition that has been impacting the lives of millions of people for years. The characteristics of an eating disorder range in severity depending on a person’s unique relationship with food. In 2023, 9% of the global population has an active eating disorder. Although eating disorders are prominent globally, it’s important to note that there is hope and help to overcome an eating disorder with the appropriate treatment methods that maintain a person’s physical and emotional safety. Continue reading to learn more about eating disorders, including recent statistics and insights into the impact and treatment of eating disorders.
Different causes and effects classify various eating disorders, and eating disorder recovery is based on each person’s specific circumstances and needs. An eating disorder is characterized by severe and persistent disruptions within eating patterns, which are often accompanied by distressing emotions and thoughts regarding body image, self-esteem, and social interactions.
People with an eating disorder will have unique causes for developing their eating patterns. Eating disorders are complex and often caused by various factors, including physical, psychological, genetic, and environmental factors. Societal norms of perceived healthy or beautiful body types have been known to influence eating disorders within adolescents. Additionally, if someone in your family has an eating disorder, it can increase your chances of developing an eating disorder.
Do I Have an Eating Disorder? Recognizing the Signs
Specific signs and symptoms for eating disorders will indicate that your eating patterns have transitioned into unhealthy and, sometimes, dangerous traits. Sometimes, people may diet or attempt to lose or manage their weight. This doesn’t always indicate an eating disorder if it is done healthily. If you’re wondering about your or someone you love’s eating patterns and find yourself asking, “Do I have an eating disorder?” the following are signs and indicators of eating disorders:
- Severe fluctuations in weight, either up or down
- Menstrual irregularities
- Dry skin and brittle nails or hair
- Weakness in the muscles
- Yellow skin
- Swelling around the salivary gland
- Dental concerns including yellow teeth, cavities, or enamel erosion
- Feeling constantly cold
- Fainting or dizziness
- Cuts or calluses around the tops of fingers result from induced vomiting
- Appearing uncomfortable eating around others
- Being preoccupied with food, calories or dieting is your life’s overarching thought
- Extreme concern and focus on body shape and size
- Frequently checking appearance and pointing out flaws
- Engaging in food rituals
- Skipping meals or taking significantly small portions during meals
- Withdrawing from friends and family
Common Types of Eating Disorders
Compulsive Eating Disorder
Compulsive eating disorders are characterized by losing control over one’s eating patterns. People often eat compulsively to cope with challenging life events and difficult emotions. There are several indicators for compulsive disorder, and some of the most common compulsive eating disorder symptoms are:
- Eating unusually large amounts of food in one sitting
- Continuing to eat even after feeling full
- Eating alone due to feelings of shame or embarrassment
- Engaging in impulsive eating or nighttime eating
- Compulsive eating behaviors include hiding or eating food out of the garbage
Selective Eating Disorder
Selective eating disorder is a form of avoidant restrictive food intake disorder. People with selective eating disorders experience aversions to certain food groups, refuse to eat certain foods due to textures, smells, or tastes, and often experience significant anxiety or distress when presented with certain foods they are avoidant. The most common selective eating disorder symptoms are:
- Eating only foods that are considered to be safe
- Going out of your way to avoid contact, seeing, or even being in the same room as certain foods
- Experiencing anxiety when in the same room or encouraged to eat particular food groups
- Having a minimal list of foods deemed safe or appropriate to eat
- Eliminating entire food groups from your diet
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (arfid disorder) is a recently added eating disorder to the DSM IV. ARFID eating disorder is characterized by a disturbance in eating that results in a persistent failure to meet nutritional needs or engaging in extreme picky eating. ARFID eating disorder results in people avoiding certain food groups, anxiety or fear of what will happen if they eat certain food groups, and a lack of interest in eating. Common ARFID symptoms are:
- Dramatic resistance to eating certain food groups
- Lack of appetite or interest in food
- Only eating certain foods or textures
- Picky eating patterns worsen over time, resulting in very few foods that will be eaten or deemed safe
- Fear of choking or vomiting from certain foods
Eating Disorders in Adolescence: Statistics and Insights
Adolescence is a time for self-discovery and growth, but it is also accompanied by a lack of self-esteem or self-worth that can result in poor self-image and negative body image. Most eating disorders begin in adolescence and early adulthood. The rate of eating disorders among adolescents is rising at an alarming rate, and the eating disorders in adolescence statistics demonstrate the impact these conditions have on young people today. 2.7% of adolescents will be diagnosed with an eating disorder. This number only indicates those diagnosed, meaning that even more teens are living with eating disorders but haven’t been diagnosed yet. 13% of adolescents will be diagnosed with an eating disorder by age 20. Early intervention and treatment are critical to supporting young people in addressing and healing from the underlying causes of eating disorders and ensuring they can transition into adulthood with a healthy relationship with food and a positive self-image.
Eating Disorders Demographics 2023
Eating disorders impact people of all races, ages, genders, and diversities. The eating disorders demographics 2023 include some of the following:
- 9% of the global population is living with an eating disorder
- Black teenagers are 50% more likely to develop bulimia than white teenagers
- People within the BIPOC community are half as likely to receive treatment for eating disorders
- 87% of LGBTQ youth report dissatisfaction with their body image
- 32% of transgender youth report engaging in eating disorders to modify their bodies
- 20-30% of adults with eating disorders have autism
Addressing Eating Disorders: Treatments and Recovery
There is hope to overcome an eating disorder with the appropriate treatment and levels of care. Depending on your circumstances and preference, you can engage in residential or outpatient treatment programs. The key to eating disorder recovery is therapy. Common therapy methods used within eating disorder treatment are:
- Medical Nutrition Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy
- Family Therapy
- Art Therapy
- Dance Movement Therapy
- Equine Therapy
A comprehensive treatment plan supports patients in safely treating the physical impacts of eating disorders while helping them explore the underlying emotions and causes of eating disorders. A key component of eating disorder therapy is to learn your triggers and develop healthy, positive coping skills to overcome triggers without returning to unhealthy coping and eating patterns.
Frequently Asked Questions About Types of Eating Disorders
What are the most common types of eating disorders in 2023?
The most common eating disorders impacting Americans’ lives are anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.
How have the statistics of eating disorders changed over the past few years?
Over the last few years, there has been a steady increase in people affected by eating disorders. From 2000-2006, 3.5% of people had an eating disorder compared to now, 7.8% of the population with an eating disorder.
What age group is most commonly affected by eating disorders in 2023?
The age group most impacted by eating disorders is adolescents and young adults. The median age for people with binge eating disorder is 21, and 18 for anorexia and bulimia.
What are some noticeable trends in eating disorders among adolescents in 2023?
In 2023, there has been a steady increase in adolescent girls experiencing eating disorders. The common eating disorders teen girls are living with are anorexia and bulimia.
How has the pandemic influenced the rates of eating disorders?
During the pandemic, there was a significant increase in people experiencing mental health concerns and teens being diagnosed with eating disorders. The National Eating Disorder Hotline reported a 70 -80% increase in calls to the hotline regarding eating disorders during the pandemic. The stress of the unknown during the pandemic caused many to focus on eating habits, weight gain, and developing unhealthy relationships with food.
What are the latest treatment options for eating disorders in 2023?
Treatment options for eating disorders have shifted to be patient-centered while ensuring that treatment is culturally sensitive and inclusive. Patients are offered eating disorder-centered psychotherapy that works to help them identify the root causes of disordered eating while supporting them to gain a new relationship with food as they heal.
What are some symptoms of Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)?
Common symptoms of ARFID are:
- Lack of interest in food
- Avoiding food due to consistency or texture
- Refusing to try new foods
- Requiring food to be prepared in certain, specific ways
- Fears of eating certain foods due to vomiting or choking
- Being considered a “picky eater.”
What are the demographics most affected by eating disorders in 2023?
The demographics most impacted by eating disorders in 2023 are:
- Young adults
- College students
- LGBTQ-identifying individuals