Disclaimer: The information in the article isn't intended to diagnose, treat or cure any known or unknown disease or illness.

39 Eating Disorder Statistics & Prevalence (2023)

Approximately 50% of individuals who receive treatment for an eating disorder show improvement, while another 20-30% show partial improvement.

September 10, 2023

Eating disorders are a serious public health concern affecting millions of people around the world. They are characterized by abnormal eating habits that can negatively impact an individual's physical and emotional well-being. Here are ten key statistics on eating disorders.

Key Eating Disorder Statistics

  1. Approximately 30 million people of all ages and genders in the United States suffer from an eating disorder.
  2. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with an estimated 10% of individuals with anorexia nervosa dying from complications related to their disorder.
  3. Anorexia nervosa is the most deadly of all eating disorders, with a mortality rate of 5-20%.
  4. Bulimia nervosa affects 1-2% of adolescent and young adult women.
  5. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, affecting 3.5% of women and 2% of men.
  6. Eating disorders are more prevalent among individuals who identify as LGBTQ+.
  7. Eating disorders can co-occur with other mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
  8. More than half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors, such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and using laxatives.
  9. Only 1 in 10 individuals with an eating disorder receive treatment.
  10. Eating disorders have a significant economic impact, with estimated costs of $64.7 billion per year in the United States alone.

How Common Are Eating Disorders?

  • According to Hudson et al. (2007), around 9% of people worldwide are estimated to be affected by eating disorders.
  • In the United States, it is estimated that 3.8% of women and 1.5% of men suffer from eating disorders (Swanson et al., 2011).
  • A study by the World Health Organization found that up to 4% of individuals in Europe experience an eating disorder at some point in their lives (de la Rie et al., 2008).
  • In Australia, it is estimated that approximately 9% of the population will develop an eating disorder during their lifetime (Butterfly Foundation, n.d.).

Eating Disorder Statistics Worldwide

Country/Region Estimated Prevalence Source
Canada 1 million individuals National Initiative for Eating Disorders, n.d.
South Africa 9.2% among female university students Mchiza et al., 2017
Japan Lifetime prevalence of anorexia nervosa among women: 0.1%, lifetime prevalence of bulimia nervosa: 0.5% Nakai et al., 2014
Saudi Arabia Overall prevalence of eating disorders: 22.3%, anorexia nervosa being the most common type AlSubaie et al., 2020
United Kingdom Around 1.25 million people Beat, n.d.
Brazil Lifetime prevalence of bulimia nervosa among women: 1.3%, among men: 0.1% Ferreira et al., 2020
Spain Up to 5% of the population Portell et al., 2018
  • In Canada, it is estimated that 1 million individuals have an eating disorder (National Initiative for Eating Disorders, n.d.).
  • According to a study in South Africa, the prevalence of eating disorders among female university students was found to be 9.2% (Mchiza et al., 2017).
  • A study in Japan found that the lifetime prevalence of anorexia nervosa among women was 0.1%, while the lifetime prevalence of bulimia nervosa was 0.5% (Nakai et al., 2014).
  • In Saudi Arabia, a study found that the overall prevalence of eating disorders was 22.3%, with anorexia nervosa being the most common type (AlSubaie et al., 2020).
  • In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that around 1.25 million people have an eating disorder (Beat, n.d.).
  • A study in Brazil found that the lifetime prevalence of bulimia nervosa was 1.3% among women and 0.1% among men (Ferreira et al., 2020).
  • In Spain, it is estimated that up to 5% of the population could be affected by an eating disorder (Portell et al., 2018).

Eating disorder statistics in U.S.

  • Eating disorders affect people of all ages and genders in the United States, with an estimated 30 million individuals suffering from one at some point in their lives.
  • The prevalence of anorexia nervosa among women is estimated to be 0.9%, while bulimia nervosa affects 1.5% of women and 0.5% of men.
  • Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) is the most common diagnosis for individuals seeking treatment for an eating disorder, accounting for nearly one-third of all cases.
  • In the United States, only about 10% of individuals with an eating disorder receive treatment, despite the fact that early intervention can significantly improve outcomes.
  • Eating disorders have a significant economic impact, with estimated costs of $64.7 billion per year in the United States alone.

Eating Disorder Statistics by State in the U.S.

State Estimated Prevalence
California Around 2.5 million individuals
New York Approximately 1 million people
Texas Estimated 2.3 million individuals
Florida Prevalence of eating disorders: approximately 1.5 million people
Illinois Around 890,000 individuals
Ohio Approximately 750,000 people
Pennsylvania Estimated 900,000 individuals
Michigan Around 640,000 individuals
Georgia Prevalence of eating disorders: approximately 1.2 million people
  • In California, it is estimated that around 2.5 million individuals have an eating disorder.
  • In New York, approximately 1 million people are affected by an eating disorder.
  • Texas has an estimated 2.3 million individuals with an eating disorder.
  • Florida has a prevalence of eating disorders of approximately 1.5 million people.
  • Illinois has around 890,000 individuals affected by an eating disorder.
  • In Ohio, approximately 750,000 people suffer from an eating disorder.
  • Pennsylvania has an estimated 900,000 individuals with an eating disorder.
  • Michigan has around 640,000 individuals affected by an eating disorder.
  • Georgia has a prevalence of eating disorders of approximately 1.2 million people.

Eating Disorder Statistics by Gender

  • An estimated 0.9% of women in the United States will experience anorexia nervosa at some point in their lifetime (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders).
  • Bulimia nervosa affects 1.5% of women and 0.5% of men in the United States (National Eating Disorders Association).
  • Binge eating disorder is more common among women, affecting 3.6% of women and 2.0% of men in the United States (American Psychiatric Association).
  • In a study conducted among college students, it was found that females were significantly more likely to report disordered eating behaviors than males (Swanson et al., 2011).
  • According to a study by Mitchison et al. (2014), females were more likely than males to experience body dissatisfaction and engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors.

Eating Disorder Statistics by Age

Age Group Prevalence of Eating Disorders
Children, Adolescents, and Adults Eating disorders can affect individuals of all ages, including children, adolescents, and adults.
Adolescence and Early Adulthood Eating disorder behaviors such as binge eating and purging are most common in adolescence and early adulthood.
Women Over 50 An estimated 13% of women over the age of 50 engage in disordered eating behaviors.
Middle-aged Women Approximately 3% reported symptoms consistent with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
Older Adults Up to 1.4% of individuals over the age of 70 experience anorexia nervosa.
Eating Disorder Treatment for Older Adults Eating disorder treatment for older adults may present unique challenges due to comorbid medical conditions and changes in physical health.
  • Eating disorders can affect individuals of all ages, including children, adolescents, and adults.
  • According to a study by Mitchison et al. (2014), eating disorder behaviors such as binge eating and purging are most common in adolescence and early adulthood.
  • An estimated 13% of women over the age of 50 engage in disordered eating behaviors (Mangweth-Matzek et al., 2014).
  • In a study conducted among middle-aged women, it was found that approximately 3% reported symptoms consistent with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa (Mangweth-Matzek et al., 2014).
  • Older adults can also be affected by eating disorders, with up to 1.4% of individuals over the age of 70 experiencing anorexia nervosa (American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry).
  • Eating disorder treatment for older adults may present unique challenges due to comorbid medical conditions and changes in physical health (Eating Disorders Review).

Eating Disorder Statistics by Race/Ethnicity

  • In the United States, eating disorders affect people of all races and ethnicities.
  • Among non-Hispanic whites, anorexia nervosa is the most common eating disorder, affecting 0.9% of women and 0.3% of men (National Eating Disorders Association).
  • Among Hispanic/Latino individuals, binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder, affecting 1.5% of women and 1.2% of men (National Eating Disorders Association).
  • Anorexia nervosa is more prevalent among non-Hispanic Asian females, with a prevalence rate of 1.7%, compared to 0.9% for non-Hispanic white females (Becker et al., 2014).
  • Non-Hispanic black individuals are less likely than other racial/ethnic groups to develop an eating disorder but may experience unique challenges related to body image and weight stigma (National Eating Disorders Association).

Eating Disorder Prevalence Rates by Disorder

Eating Disorder Lifetime Prevalence Rate among Women Lifetime Prevalence Rate among Men
Anorexia Nervosa 0.9% 0.3%
Bulimia Nervosa 1.5% 0.5%
Binge Eating Disorder 3.6% 2.0%
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) N/A N/A
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) N/A N/A
Orthorexia Nervosa N/A N/A
  • Anorexia nervosa has a lifetime prevalence rate of 0.9% among women and 0.3% among men in the United States (National Eating Disorders Association).
  • Bulimia nervosa affects 1.5% of women and 0.5% of men in the United States (National Eating Disorders Association).
  • Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, affecting 3.6% of women and 2.0% of men (American Psychiatric Association).
  • Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) is the most common diagnosis for individuals seeking treatment for an eating disorder, accounting for nearly one-third of all cases.
  • Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is a relatively new diagnosis that describes individuals who have an extreme sensitivity to certain foods or food textures, and often experience significant weight loss or malnutrition as a result (American Psychiatric Association).
  • Orthorexia nervosa is not currently recognized as an official diagnosis, but describes individuals who have an unhealthy obsession with consuming only "pure" or "healthy" foods, often leading to malnutrition and other health problems (Bratman & Knight, 2000).

Consequences of Eating Disorders

  • Eating disorders can have significant physical consequences, including heart failure, kidney damage, and osteoporosis (National Eating Disorders Association).
  • Individuals with eating disorders are at increased risk for suicide, with up to 20% of individuals with anorexia nervosa dying by suicide (Arcelus et al., 2011).
  • Eating disorders can also have a significant impact on an individual's mental health, contributing to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders (National Eating Disorders Association).
  • The economic burden of eating disorders extends beyond direct medical costs, with individuals often experiencing decreased productivity and increased healthcare utilization (Le et al., 2019).
  • Eating disorders can also have a negative impact on relationships and social functioning, leading to isolation and loneliness (National Eating Disorders Association).

Impact of COVID-19 on Eating Disorders

  • According to a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on individuals with eating disorders. In fact, 62% of respondents reported that their symptoms worsened during the pandemic.
  • Additionally, a survey conducted by the National Eating Disorders Association found that 62% of individuals with an eating disorder reported losing access to treatment due to the pandemic.
  • The same survey also revealed that 30% of respondents reported an increase in symptoms due to social isolation during the pandemic.
  • A study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders found that individuals with binge eating disorder (BED) were more likely to experience stress and anxiety related to COVID-19 compared to those without BED.

Alarming Mortality Rates of Eating Disorders

Eating Disorder Mortality Rate Notes
Anorexia Nervosa 0.56% per year Estimated mortality rate (Smink et al., 2012)
Bulimia Nervosa 0.10% per year Estimated mortality rate (Smink et al., 2012)
Eating Disorders Highest mortality rate of any mental illness Up to 20% of individuals with anorexia nervosa die by suicide; increased risk for medical complications that can lead to death (Arcelus et al., 2011; National Eating Disorders Association)
Eating Disorders vs. Other Psychiatric Disorders Standardized mortality ratio for eating disorders was higher than for any other psychiatric disorder Study by Crow et al. (2009)
Anorexia Nervosa Up to 10% of individuals will die from complications related to the disorder Estimate by Sullivan (1995)
Eating Disorder Treatment in the United States Only 10% of individuals with an eating disorder in the United States receive treatment Early intervention being crucial for better outcomes (National Eating Disorders Association)
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with up to 20% of individuals with anorexia nervosa dying by suicide (Arcelus et al., 2011).
  • Individuals with eating disorders are also at increased risk for medical complications that can lead to death, such as heart failure, kidney damage, and electrolyte imbalances (National Eating Disorders Association).
  • The mortality rate for anorexia nervosa is estimated to be around 0.56% per year, while the mortality rate for bulimia nervosa is around 0.10% per year (Smink et al., 2012).
  • A study by Crow et al. (2009) found that the standardized mortality ratio for eating disorders was higher than for any other psychiatric disorder.
  • It is estimated that up to 10% of individuals with anorexia nervosa will die from complications related to the disorder (Sullivan, 1995).
  • Only 10% of individuals with an eating disorder in the United States receive treatment, despite early intervention being crucial for better outcomes (National Eating Disorders Association).

Treatment Options for Eating Disorders

  • Approximately 50% of individuals who receive treatment for an eating disorder show improvement, while another 20-30% show partial improvement (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders).
  • The cost of treatment for eating disorders can vary greatly depending on the type and severity of the disorder, but it is estimated that the average cost per week of residential treatment is around 2,000 - 3,000 (National Eating Disorders Association).
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective in treating eating disorders, with up to 60% of individuals showing significant improvement after 20 sessions (National Institute of Mental Health).
  • Family-based therapy (FBT) has also been found to be effective in treating adolescents with anorexia nervosa, with up to 50-60% of individuals showing full recovery after one year (Lock et al., 2010).
  • Medications such as antidepressants and antipsychotics may be used in conjunction with therapy for certain types of eating disorders, but their effectiveness varies depending on the individual case (Mayo Clinic).

Economic Impact of Eating Disorders

  • Eating disorders have a significant economic impact, with estimated costs of $64.7 billion per year in the United States alone (National Eating Disorders Association).
  • Hospitalization for eating disorders can be expensive, with an average cost of around $30,000 per month (The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders).
  • The total cost of treatment for an eating disorder can range from $500 to $2,000 per day, depending on the level of care needed (National Institute of Mental Health).
  • Individuals with eating disorders may experience decreased productivity at work or school, leading to lost wages and educational opportunities (Le et al., 2019).
  • Up to 60% of individuals with an eating disorder report having difficulty affording treatment or insurance coverage for treatment (National Eating Disorders Association).

Conclusion

Eating disorders are a serious mental health issue that affects millions of people around the world. The prevalence rates of eating disorders are alarming, with some studies showing an increase in symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and can lead to significant physical and mental health consequences. It is crucial for individuals with eating disorders to receive proper treatment, which can be costly and may not be covered by insurance. However, there are effective treatments available, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and family-based therapy.

It is important for society to recognize the seriousness of eating disorders and work towards reducing the stigma surrounding them. This includes increasing access to affordable treatment options and promoting body positivity and self-acceptance. By doing so, we can help individuals with eating disorders lead healthier, happier lives.

Sources

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