Eating disorders are growing in incidence throughout the world. Here are the three primary types:

  • Anorexia nervosa (severely restricted eating)
  • Bulimia nervosa (binging with purging)
  • Binge eating disorder (compulsive overeating)

Eating disorders such as Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating disorder are characterized by extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues, and a disconnected understanding of one’s body. Eating disorders are also a gendered health issue, affecting women at a disproportionate rate than men.

Here are some facts about eating disorders from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders:

  • Eating disorders are a national epidemic affecting over 7 million women and 1 million men, and it incidence is increasing at an alarming rate.
  • Onset of eating disorders occurs before the age of 20 in 86% of sufferers. The incidence rate is estimated at 4.5% in young women and 2% in young men.
  • Death rate is over 5%. Young women with anorexia nervosa are 12 times more likely to die than their peers.

Eating disorders are very complex problems with many possible causal factors (e.g., genetics, personality, family dysfunction, psychological issues). However, almost everyone agrees two of the primary contributors are:

A culture that promotes thinness in women and musculature in men and a media that transmits these messages.
Prior experience with strict dieting (severe dieters have an 18 times greater chance of developing an eating disorder).

In other words, eating disorders can definitely be attributed to the pressure society puts an women to be thin, and men to be muscular. Eating disorders prevail when these unattainable goals and cultural standards become internalized and necessary for survival and success. Researchers who study eating-disordered thoughts and behaviors suggest that the media, advertising, women’s magazines, and the $60 billion weight loss industry may play a role in triggering eating disorders.

If you want additional information about eating disorders, beyond what’s provided on this site, here is an additional resource you may want to access: Eating Disorders Publications and Education

Allen Oelschlaeger ( is known for his no-nonsense and passionate approach to sharing his expertise on weight loss, nutrition and fitness and is the creator of the B.I.T.E. method for effortless weight management. Allen has degrees in biology and pharmacy and was an executive in the medical industry for over 20 years.