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Eating Disorder Statistics

Prevalence of Eating Disorders

Anorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, and Bulimia Statistics

Life-threatening eating disorders affect millions of people in the United States each year. It’s estimated that between 2% and 6% of individuals in the United States struggle with eating disorders like bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa, implying that between 5 and 16 million individuals struggle with these deadly disorders.

Anorexia nervosa, a potentially fatal disease, is estimated to affect approximately .5-2% of the U.S. population, while bulimia nervosa is estimated to occur within the U.S. population at 1%-4%.

Binge Eating Disorder is thought to affect up to 25 million individuals.

General Eating Disorder Statistics

Eating disorders can affect both genders and people of all ages. However, young women are most at risk for developing eating disorders. 86% of eating disorders present themselves before the age of 20. Eating disorders are affecting younger and younger individuals. It’s estimated that 11% of high school students are struggling with a diagnosable eating disorder.

Eating disorders among women of college-age are especially prevalent. It’s thought that between 19% and 30% of college-age women struggle with bulimic behavior.

Those practicing "thin-build" or "appearance" sports and athletic activities such as gymnastics, figure skating, cross country track and ballet are at a greater risk of developing eating disorders. Up to 62% of females participating in these sorts of activities are reported to have struggled with eating disorders.

Course and Outcome of Eating Disorders


The typical onset for Bulimia and Anorexia nervosa is at some point during the late teenage years or early adulthood. Eating disorders tend to begin in the wake of a traumatic event or stressful period of life. When individuals feel that events in life are beyond their control, they sometimes turn to eating disorders as a way to acquire a false sense of control over their lives.

It’s common that individuals who develop eating disorders endured a traumatic stretch of life in which they were teased and humiliated for being overweight. This can often inspire unhealthy dieting. Often, initial attempts at weight loss are successful and they receive positive reinforcement from peers and loved ones.  However, individuals often put the weight back on through eating binges, or become dangerously underweight through unhealthy dieting, purging behavior or substance abuse.

77% of individuals practice their eating disorders for 1-15 years. Eating disorders are considered to be the deadliest mental health conditions, with up to 10% dying from complications like starvation, cancer, suicide or cardiac arrest. Women between the age of 15 and 24 are 12 times more likely to die from an eating disorder than any other cause of death within that age group.

Recovery Statistics

Anorexics that receive treatment have a 40% chance of complete recovery and 40% chance of partial recovery. 20% continue to have chronic problems.

50% of individuals with bulimia who seek treatment recover completely, 35% experience some bulimic episodes and 15% still have chronic bulimia.