Thursday, April 22, 2010

Prevalence and Outcome of Eating Disorders

Prevalence of Eating Disorders

Each year, millions of people in the United States
succumb to potentially life-threatening eating disorders. Estimates of people afflicted with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa in the United States range from 2% to 6%. This implies that between 5 and 16 million people suffer from these disorders. Approximately 90% of those afflicted with these disorders are women.

The potentially fatal disease, Anorexia Nervosa, occurs within the population at approximately .5% to 2%. Estimates for the occurrence of Bulimia Nervosa range between 1% to 4% of the population. Although eating disorders can affect people of all ages, 86% of individuals afflicted with these disorders report the onset before the age of 20.

The occurrence of eating disorders among college age women can almost be considered epidemic. Between 19% and 30% of this age group display bulimic behavior. The current trend is that eating disorders are affecting younger and younger individuals. It is estimated that currently 11% of high school students may have a diagnosable eating disorder.

Athletes and dancers may face a greater risk for developing an eating disorder. In ballet, for example, success may depend on the attainment of a wiry and extremely thin body type. For athletes, particularly women in “appearance sports” which include gymnastics and figure skating, appearance also seems to play a key role in success. Of females who participate in these types of athletic activities, as well as track and cross-country, 62% have been reported to have eating disorders.

Course and Outcome of Eating Disorders

The onset for Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa is usually during late adolescence or early adulthood. The illnesses usually begin following a stressful life event. Many eating disordered individuals feel out of control with their life and through the practice of the eating disorder get a false sense of control. They often went through a period of being overweight and being teased or felt left out because of their weight. Their first attempts at weight loss were often met with success and positive comments from their family and peers.

Of individuals with eating disorders, 77% usually practice their eating disorders between 1 and 15 years. Eating disorders are among the deadliest mental disorders with up to 10% succumbing to death as a result of starvation, cardiac arrest, or suicide.

Eating disorders are most successfully treated with early diagnosis. For anorexics that receive treatment, 40% recover completely, 40% make only partial recovery, and 20% have chronic problems. For bulimics, 50% recover completely, 35% have some bulimic episodes, and 15% still have chronic problems with their bulimia.

Article submitted by: Rader Programs

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