Facts and Fiction About Eating Disorders

Reviewed Nov 23, 2016

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

 

Summary

  • No one chooses to start or to stop having an eating disorder.
  • Recovery requires professional help.

There are many myths about eating disorders. Having the facts will make them more likely to be detected. The sooner disorders are noticed, the better the chances for proper treatment and healing.

Here are the “who, what, when, why, and wheres” of eating disorders.

Who?

People often think of eating disorders as affecting young, white women. It is true they affect teens and young adults more, and women more than men. But eating disorders can happen to people of all ages, races, and genders.

Males get eating disorders less often but usually with more shame attached. They are also less likely to get treated for eating disorders than females. Rather than wanting to be thin, males often feel a need to be more muscular. This puts them at greater risk of taking steroids.

Older women are not exempt from eating disorders. Increased body fat and slower metabolisms can raise their chances as they age. Other body changes such as pregnancy and menopause can also be triggers.

Certain jobs run a higher risk of eating disorders. These include models, dancers, actors, and athletes.

What?

All eating disorders involve an obsession with food and weight. The three main types are anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder (BED). Often people are confused about how the three differ.

People with anorexia eat very little despite being very thin. They cannot get better by simply eating more. They have a distorted body image. They do not notice that they are thin. Sometimes a person with anorexia will binge eat. This is followed by some form of purging the food. This may be through forced vomiting or an over use of exercise or dieting.

Unlike anorexia, people with bulimia overeat and tend to be normal weight or slightly heavy. They do feel the same sense of guilt though and will also resort to purging.

People with BED overeat and feel guilty but do not purge. They tend to be overweight or even obese.

When?

Eating disorders most often occur in teens and young adults. But they can appear at any age. Many older women seem to have the same body image concerns as younger females.

Why?

There is no single cause of eating disorders. They sometimes run in families. They are not caused by bad parenting. They may be caused by differences in DNA or brain patterns. Stress, trauma, and abuse can all be factors. Teasing, peer pressure and the media’s obsession with thinness can also be triggers. Constant dieting can sometimes lead to an eating disorder. The same can be true of weight gain from taking medicine or from getting pregnant.

Where can someone get help?

No one chooses to have an eating disorder. By the same token, a person cannot simply choose to stop it. Also, due to shame and denial, the person often will not seek help. If you feel someone you know may have an eating disorder you should speak up. Express your concerns in a loving but firm manner. Encourage her to seek professional help. Offer to help him make an appointment. The sooner the person gets help, the better the chances for healing.

Anyone can contact the National Eating Disorder Association for help or info. Chat live at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org or by calling the NEDA Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

Resource

National Eating Disorder Association
General Information
NEDA Toolkits

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Eating Disorder Association, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/Toolkits/ParentToolkit.pdf, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/Toolkits/EducatorToolkit.pdf, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/national-eating-disorders-association-joins-other-prominent-research-advocay-treatment-groups-adopt, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/whats-age-got-do-it; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/Everybody-Knows-Somebody-National-Eating-Disorders; U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003998.html
Reviewed by Maria F Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • No one chooses to start or to stop having an eating disorder.
  • Recovery requires professional help.

There are many myths about eating disorders. Having the facts will make them more likely to be detected. The sooner disorders are noticed, the better the chances for proper treatment and healing.

Here are the “who, what, when, why, and wheres” of eating disorders.

Who?

People often think of eating disorders as affecting young, white women. It is true they affect teens and young adults more, and women more than men. But eating disorders can happen to people of all ages, races, and genders.

Males get eating disorders less often but usually with more shame attached. They are also less likely to get treated for eating disorders than females. Rather than wanting to be thin, males often feel a need to be more muscular. This puts them at greater risk of taking steroids.

Older women are not exempt from eating disorders. Increased body fat and slower metabolisms can raise their chances as they age. Other body changes such as pregnancy and menopause can also be triggers.

Certain jobs run a higher risk of eating disorders. These include models, dancers, actors, and athletes.

What?

All eating disorders involve an obsession with food and weight. The three main types are anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder (BED). Often people are confused about how the three differ.

People with anorexia eat very little despite being very thin. They cannot get better by simply eating more. They have a distorted body image. They do not notice that they are thin. Sometimes a person with anorexia will binge eat. This is followed by some form of purging the food. This may be through forced vomiting or an over use of exercise or dieting.

Unlike anorexia, people with bulimia overeat and tend to be normal weight or slightly heavy. They do feel the same sense of guilt though and will also resort to purging.

People with BED overeat and feel guilty but do not purge. They tend to be overweight or even obese.

When?

Eating disorders most often occur in teens and young adults. But they can appear at any age. Many older women seem to have the same body image concerns as younger females.

Why?

There is no single cause of eating disorders. They sometimes run in families. They are not caused by bad parenting. They may be caused by differences in DNA or brain patterns. Stress, trauma, and abuse can all be factors. Teasing, peer pressure and the media’s obsession with thinness can also be triggers. Constant dieting can sometimes lead to an eating disorder. The same can be true of weight gain from taking medicine or from getting pregnant.

Where can someone get help?

No one chooses to have an eating disorder. By the same token, a person cannot simply choose to stop it. Also, due to shame and denial, the person often will not seek help. If you feel someone you know may have an eating disorder you should speak up. Express your concerns in a loving but firm manner. Encourage her to seek professional help. Offer to help him make an appointment. The sooner the person gets help, the better the chances for healing.

Anyone can contact the National Eating Disorder Association for help or info. Chat live at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org or by calling the NEDA Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

Resource

National Eating Disorder Association
General Information
NEDA Toolkits

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Eating Disorder Association, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/Toolkits/ParentToolkit.pdf, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/Toolkits/EducatorToolkit.pdf, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/national-eating-disorders-association-joins-other-prominent-research-advocay-treatment-groups-adopt, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/whats-age-got-do-it; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/Everybody-Knows-Somebody-National-Eating-Disorders; U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003998.html
Reviewed by Maria F Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • No one chooses to start or to stop having an eating disorder.
  • Recovery requires professional help.

There are many myths about eating disorders. Having the facts will make them more likely to be detected. The sooner disorders are noticed, the better the chances for proper treatment and healing.

Here are the “who, what, when, why, and wheres” of eating disorders.

Who?

People often think of eating disorders as affecting young, white women. It is true they affect teens and young adults more, and women more than men. But eating disorders can happen to people of all ages, races, and genders.

Males get eating disorders less often but usually with more shame attached. They are also less likely to get treated for eating disorders than females. Rather than wanting to be thin, males often feel a need to be more muscular. This puts them at greater risk of taking steroids.

Older women are not exempt from eating disorders. Increased body fat and slower metabolisms can raise their chances as they age. Other body changes such as pregnancy and menopause can also be triggers.

Certain jobs run a higher risk of eating disorders. These include models, dancers, actors, and athletes.

What?

All eating disorders involve an obsession with food and weight. The three main types are anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder (BED). Often people are confused about how the three differ.

People with anorexia eat very little despite being very thin. They cannot get better by simply eating more. They have a distorted body image. They do not notice that they are thin. Sometimes a person with anorexia will binge eat. This is followed by some form of purging the food. This may be through forced vomiting or an over use of exercise or dieting.

Unlike anorexia, people with bulimia overeat and tend to be normal weight or slightly heavy. They do feel the same sense of guilt though and will also resort to purging.

People with BED overeat and feel guilty but do not purge. They tend to be overweight or even obese.

When?

Eating disorders most often occur in teens and young adults. But they can appear at any age. Many older women seem to have the same body image concerns as younger females.

Why?

There is no single cause of eating disorders. They sometimes run in families. They are not caused by bad parenting. They may be caused by differences in DNA or brain patterns. Stress, trauma, and abuse can all be factors. Teasing, peer pressure and the media’s obsession with thinness can also be triggers. Constant dieting can sometimes lead to an eating disorder. The same can be true of weight gain from taking medicine or from getting pregnant.

Where can someone get help?

No one chooses to have an eating disorder. By the same token, a person cannot simply choose to stop it. Also, due to shame and denial, the person often will not seek help. If you feel someone you know may have an eating disorder you should speak up. Express your concerns in a loving but firm manner. Encourage her to seek professional help. Offer to help him make an appointment. The sooner the person gets help, the better the chances for healing.

Anyone can contact the National Eating Disorder Association for help or info. Chat live at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org or by calling the NEDA Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

Resource

National Eating Disorder Association
General Information
NEDA Toolkits

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Eating Disorder Association, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/Toolkits/ParentToolkit.pdf, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/Toolkits/EducatorToolkit.pdf, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/national-eating-disorders-association-joins-other-prominent-research-advocay-treatment-groups-adopt, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/whats-age-got-do-it; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/Everybody-Knows-Somebody-National-Eating-Disorders; U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003998.html
Reviewed by Maria F Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.