3 Truths about Eating Disorders

There are loads of myths about eating disorders. Below are three myth-busting truths about eating disorders. Wear purple for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week!

1. Eating disorders are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices
Eating disorders are complex conditions that arise from a combination of long-standing
behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, biological and social factors. As our
natural body size and shape is largely determined by genetics, fighting our natural size and
shape can lead to unhealthy dieting practices, poor body image and decreased self-esteem.
While eating disorders may begin with preoccupations with food and weight, they are about
much more than food. Recent research has shown that genetic factors create vulnerabilities that place individuals at risk for acting on cultural pressures and messages and triggering behaviors
such as dieting or obsessive exercise.

In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and
death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Approximately 15 million
more are struggling with binge eating disorder.

2. Education, early intervention, and access to care are critical
There has been a rise in incidence of anorexia in young women 15-19 years old in each decade
since 1930; over one person’s lifetime, at least 50,000 individuals will die as a direct result of
an eating disorder. In the United States, we are inundated with messages telling us that thinner
is better, and when we “fit” our culture’s impossible beauty standards, we will be happy. Did
you know that 80% of all ten year olds are afraid of being fat? As a culture, it is time for all
communities to talk about eating disorders, address their contributing factors, advocate for
access to treatment and take action for early intervention. You can make a difference: do just
one thing to initiate awareness, education and discussion about eating disorders in you
community. If we all do something, we’ll have a tremendous impact!

3. Help is available, and recovery is possible
While eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses, there is help available
and recovery really is possible. It is important for those affected to remember that they are not
alone in their struggle; others have recovered and are now living healthy fulfilling lives. Let the
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) be a part of your network of support. NEDA
has information and resources available via our website and helpline:

NEDA www.nationaleatingdisorders.org NEDA Helpline: 800 931-2237