Eating Disorder Statistics

In this article about teen eating disorder statistics we take a look at some general statistics for different types of eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, pica, and rumination. Read on for more eating disorder statistics.

Eating disorders are a relatively new area of research and people with the disorders tend to be secretive, so statistical information is neither extensive or exact. In addition, some findings are contradictory, in which case, I have chosen the most up-to-date figures. or - if they are from approximately the same time - presented both alternatives. Here’s a summary of what we know about eating disorder statistics:

General Eating Disorder Statistics

  • According to some studies, 5-7% of women in the US will suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their lives.
  • Female adolescents increased their use of dieting and diet products from 1995 - 2005.
  • The prevalence of eating disorders among high school boys rose a significant amount between 1995 and 2005. The increase was mainly in weight-controlling activities, and predominant among Hispanic youth, while least likely among white students.

Anorexia Nervosa - Eating Disorder Statistics

  • 90 - 95% of people with anorexia nervosa are women.
  • Anorexia nervosa is estimated to affect 1 in every 100 adolescent girls.
  • Anorexia nervosa is most pervasive among Caucasians and among people in middle to upper socioeconomic groups.
  • In 1985, it was estimated that 20% of people with anorexia nervosa die from the long-term physical effects caused by chronic starvation, while in 2007, it was estimated that 6% of anorexics die from all complications of the disease, including cardiac arrest, electrolyte imbalances, and suicide.
  • The mean age for the onset of anorexia nervosa is 13.75 years, and the range is from 10 to 25 years.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) - Eating Disorder Statistics

  • Of all the eating disorders, BED reportedly occurs across the widest range of ages, has the most male sufferers, and affects the greatest percentage of people.
  • BED is both reported as affecting up to 4,000,000 Americans and around 5,000,000 American women (which would put the total of Americans affected somewhere around 8,000,000).
  • It is believed that 3 times as many women as have BED actually binge but do not meet the clinical definition of BED.
  • About 2% of the female population of the United States has BED. For every 2 men who have BED, 3 women have it.
  • BED affects around 10 - 15% of people who are mildly obese and a greater percentage of those who are severely obese. Overall, 25% of people who are obese also suffer from BED.
  • Although more common among people who are overweight, BED affects people of every weight range.

Bulimia Nervosa - Eating Disorder Statistics

  • About 70% of bulimics have a weight in the normal range, with roughly 15% overweight and the same amount underweight.
  • Over their entire lifetimes, about 3% of American women will suffer from bulimia nervosa at some point.
  • About 6% of high school girls 13-19 and 5% of college-aged women are thought to have bulimia nervosa.
  • Men make up 10% of bulimics.
  • Between 20% and 40% of women with bulimia nervosa have had problems with drug or alcohol use.
  • The age at onset of bulimia nervosa ranges from 13 to 58 years.

Pica - Eating Disorder Statistics

  • There are few statistics for Pica in general, but in institutionalized people, it is estimated at 4 - 26%.
  • Pica is not considered inappropriate in children up to 18 - 24 months of age.
  • Young people with mental retardation are likely to develop pica between the ages of 10 and 20.

Rumination Disorder

  • The onset is usually between age 3 and 12 months and it is usually outgrown. It is more likely to persist in children who have mental retardation.
  • Recently, use of rumination by adolescents of normal intelligence has begun to be recognized.

“Binge Eating Disorder.” Paula Ford-Martin and Teresa Odle. Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Ed. Jacqueline Longe. Vol. 1. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2005. p217-219.

Related Article: Overview of Eating Disorders >>