Teen Eating Disorder Statistics

Getting an accurate idea of the prevalence and other facts about eating disorders is difficult. Physicians, reports Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc. (ANRED), aren’t obligated to report eating disorders. This fact, coupled with the secretiveness of people with eating disorders and their lack of recognition that they have a problem, makes it difficult to gain an accurate idea of the prevalence of eating disorders in the U.S.

General Eating Disorder Statistics

The following statistics come from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), in 2005.

  • 30,000,000 Americans were suffering from an eating disorder.
  • 20,000,000 women and 10,000,000 men are affected by eating disorders in America.
  • 40-60% of girls age 6-12 are concerned about their weight.
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat
  • Between 3.6% and 12.9% of the American population as a whole suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their lives.

Teen Eating Disorder Statistics

EDC reports from the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry show:

  • Between 2.5 and 4% of teens have either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
  • According to ANAD, the age at onset is between 11 and 20 for 76%.
  • ANAD’s Ten Year Study revealed that for most people¬†the duration of their eating disorder was between 1 and 15 years.
  • About 1/3 of the people who responded reported a duration of 1 to 5 years.
  • Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders.

The New York University Wellness Exchange pinpoints college as a time of challenge. The report that about 20% of college-aged women feel stressed in a way that brings up issues of control and feelings of being out of control. This can develop farther into an eating disorder.

Eating Disorders and Death (Mortality) Rates

ANAD reports the following eating disorder mortality rates:

  • 4% for anorexia nervosa
  • 3.9% for bulimia nervosa
  • 5.2% for eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS)
  • NIMH shows that when¬†people with anorexia die, it is usually from complications such as cardiac arrest, suicide, or electrolyte imbalance
  • ANRED reports that as many as 20% of people with serious eating disorders will die from complications of the disorder

ANRED also reports that close to 60% of people with any sort of eating disorders recover. At the same time, ANRED points out clearly that reliable long-term data on lengthy recoveries is not available, so these figures should be considered speculative.

Statistics on the Understanding that Eating Disorders are a Serious Illness

According to statistics reported by NationalEatingDisorders.org

  • 82% believe eating disorders are a physical or mental illness
  • 85% believe eating disorders deserve insurance coverage
  • 86% feel schools should provide information about eating disorders
  • 80% believe more research on causes and effects of eating disorders could help reduce or prevent them
  • 70% believe media using more average-sized people would help prevent eating disorders

Disorder Prevalence vs. Funding

Illness Prevalence NIH Research Funds (2011)
Alzheimer’s Disease 5.1 Million $450 Million
Autism 3.6 Million $160 Million
Schizophrenia 3.4 Million $276 Million
Eating Disorders 30 Million $28 Million

That is just $0.93 of funding per individual with an eating disorder compared to $88 per person with Alzheimer’s disease.

Teen Eating Disorder Statistics Sources:

  1. nationaleatingdisorders.org/p.asp?WebPage_ID=320&Profile_ID=95634
  2. eatingdisorderscoalition.org/reports/statistics.html
  3. anred.com/stats.html
  4. anad.org/site/anadweb/content.php?type=1&id=6982
  5. nyu.edu/999/faqs/bodyimage.html
  6. nimh.nih.gov/publicat/eatingdisorders.cfm#ed4