Eating Disorder Statistics

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National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is February 26-March 4. Learn the facts about eating disorders.
  • In the United States alone, 30 million people will be impacted by an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime.
  • Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder

Men and Eating Disorders

  • While women are more commonly affected by eating disorders, 10 million men and boys will battle some form of the illness at some point in their lifetime and, due in large part to stereotypes and cultural bias, males are much less likely to seek treatment for their eating disorder.
  • Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are “women's diseases.”

College Students

  • 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.”
  • 25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.
  • In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight.


  • In a study of Division 1 NCAA athletes, over one-third of female athletes reported attitudes and symptoms placing them at risk for anorexia nervosa . In weight-class and aesthetic sports about 33% of males and up to 62% of females are affected by an eating disorder.


  • Of American elementary school girls who read magazines, 69% say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape. 47% say the pictures make them want to lose weight.
  • Bullying can trigger feelings of shame, isolation and hopelessness. It can also be a trigger for eating disorders. As many as 65% of people with an eating disorder said that bullying contributed to their condition (b-EAT).
  • All too often, the drive for thinness begins early in a person’s life. For example, 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets and 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives.


National Eating Disorder Association

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

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.

Johnson, Powers, Dick: Athletes and eating disorders: the National Collegiate Athletic Association study. 1999

Thompson, R. A. & Sherman, R.T.: Eating disorders in sport. 2010

Martin, J. B:. The Development of Ideal Body Image Perceptions in the United States. Nutrition Today, 45(3), 98-100. 2010.

Gustafson-Larson, A.M. & Terry, R.D.: Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth-grade children. Journal of American Dietetic Association. 1992.

Boutelle, K., Newmark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Resnick, M.: Weight control behaviors among obese, overweight, and nonoverweight adolescents. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 2002.

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