A major reason for the high rate of disordered eating is that it’s often associated with a body image ideal that’s focused around youth. This can leave eating disorder symptoms undetected.
The most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Each of these disorders can cause serious health complications, including death if left untreated. In addition, they’re associated with increased rates of diabetes and heart disease.
Eating disorders can affect anyone at any age, but there are some differences in the way that they develop and how they’re treated. For example, men are much more likely to get anorexia than women. This is because it’s more likely for a man to believe that they’re underweight than a woman to think they’re overweight, says Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor at Ball State University.
In order to better understand the prevalence of disordered eating in different populations, researchers analyzed data on a national sample of US adults over a 10-year period. The study included data on demographics, current eating disorder behaviors (binge eating, extreme dieting, and purging), and health-related quality of life.
Results: The overall prevalence of anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa increased between 1998 and 2008, with greater increases observed in females, in the lower socioeconomic sector, and among participants who lived in metropolitan or regional areas. In addition, males and females who were below-median household income had higher rates of binge eating, extreme dieting, and purging than did those above median income.
These results challenge the commonly held perception that eating disorders are mostly seen in young, upper-class women. In fact, the majority of individuals with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa had not graduated from high school at the time they were diagnosed with these conditions.