Eating disorders are common mental health conditions that involve disturbed patterns of food intake, body image, weight, or body shape. They can affect anyone at any age. However, the rate of disordered eating is higher in certain age groups.
Young adults (ages 18-30)
During their teen years, many adolescents go through changes in their bodies that may trigger or increase feelings of self-image, body dissatisfaction, and negative thoughts about food and eating. Adolescents are also going through formative changes such as identity exploration, social upheaval, and consideration of their future. These changes can result in increased stress and anxiety. Often, these feelings of dissatisfaction, fear of failure, and low self-esteem lead to eating disorder behaviors.
Adults with diabetes
People who have type 1 diabetes are more likely to have an eating disorder than those without the condition. This is because they have a higher rate of insulin restriction and they are more susceptible to developing an eating disorder because they have a distorted body image that makes them believe they need to lose weight to feel normal.
As they head away from home, college students are at increased risk for binge eating behaviors and binge eating disorder (BED). Binge eating is a behavior that involves eating large amounts of food in a short period of time and then purging the extra calories through vomiting or laxatives.
They are also more likely to have anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa than other college students. They are also more likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder if they were previously hospitalized for depression or a mental health condition, and they are less likely to seek treatment for their eating disorders compared to other students.
Gay and bisexual teens
Among gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth, the rates of binge eating and purging are more than double those in heterosexual peers. The reasons for this are unclear, but it could be related to the fact that gay and bisexual teens have more body dissatisfaction in general than cisgender adolescents.
Symptoms of eating disorders can develop in children at any age, but they are more likely to happen during childhood and adolescence. They are more likely to be affected by BED or OUED than other age groups, and they are more likely to get an eating disorder if they have a parent with a history of an eating disorder.
Women have a much higher rate of eating disorders than men and boys, but they can affect people of all genders. Gender diverse individuals may be at an even greater risk of developing an eating disorder, particularly if they have a family member who has an eating disorder.
Transgender, non-binary and gender diverse youth are also at an increased risk of eating disorders because they have a different view on their body, and they may be more likely to hide symptoms from other people. They are also at a greater risk of developing an eating disorder if they use social media frequently and may not be aware that they have an eating disorder.