This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, the goal of which is to bring awareness to the physical and psychological toll eating disorders take on those who are affected. Despite the formation of groups like the NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association), there are still many misconceptions about these diseases. For example, some people think only painfully thin or morbidly obese people suffer from them. Additionally, many don’t understand that eating disorders can be easily masked—someone may appear to be in control all day only to binge and purge at night.
Here are three startling facts about eating disorders:
1. Anorexia is the most fatal mental health issue. One out of every five people with anorexia will eventually die from related causes, and a 2003 study found that anorexic people are 56 times more likely to commit suicide than those who don’t suffer from it.
2. 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. 20 million men and 10 million women will struggle with an eating disorder, according to the NEDA.
3. Disordered eating is on the rise among children. 95% of Americans with eating disorders start between the ages of 12 and 25.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder or know someone who is, contact a local counseling center to find out about taking the steps toward recovery. Building self confidence with a supportive women’s group will also be a beneficial complement to treatment.