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Info on Anorexia
Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa

There are no accurate figures on the number of people suffering from eating disorders, only estimates. What is known is that the anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder affect a wide-range of people: old as well as young, poor as well as rich, men as well as women. Only recently have we begun to acknowledge how pervasive eating disorders are in modern society and how seriously they affect patients and those who love them. 

Incidence Of The Illnesses: 

Research indicates that from 8-12 million people suffer from eating disorders, not including illnesses of over-eating. Dr. Ira Sacker says his practice indicates strongly that the higher figure is more accurate. 

Approximately 1 percent of adolescent girls develop anorexia nervosa. Another 2 - 3 percent develop bulimia nervosa. 
1995: National Institutes of Health: Eating Disorders in Males 

Three percent of adolescent girls develop anorexia nervosa. Another 2 - 3 percent develop bulimia nervosa. 
Harvard Eating Disorders Center. 

Fifteen percent of young women have substantially disordered eating attitudes and behaviours. 
Harvard Eating Disorders Center. 

In Males: 

It is estimated that from 8 - 10 or more million women suffer from eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Most research into those two diseases has been conducted on females. However, a million or more men may also struggle with the diseases. 
1995: National Institutes of Health: Eating Disorders in Males 

Quoting Dr. Arnold Andersen: Males with eating disorders have been "relatively ignored, neglected, dismissed because of statistical infrequency or legislated out of existence by theoretical dogma." 

Dr. Ira Sacker estimates males constitute upwards of 10% of the patient population. 

Dr. Sacker states that he is treating boys as young as 5 and 6 years old for eating disorders each of whom has a close relative with an eating disorder. 

It is estimated that the number of men suffering from eating disorders has doubled in the past ten years. 

Studies indicate 40% of college students who are bulimic are male. 
Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair: Harvard Eating Disorders Center 


The consequences of eating disorders can be severe. For example, one in ten cases of anorexia nervosa leads to death from starvation, cardiac arrest, other medical complications, or suicide. 
National Institute of Mental Health - Eating Disorders: 1994 

A young woman with anorexia is 12 times more likely to die than other women her age without anorexia. 
Harvard Eating Disorders Center 

Dr. Sacker believes the rate to be higher than is known as the reason for death is often stated as an associated cause. 

Identification Of The Illness

Anorexia nervosa has been recognized as a medical disorder since the late 19th century, and there is evidence that rates of this disease have increased significantly over the last few decades. Bulimia nervosa was only first identified in 1979, and there had been some speculation that it may represent a new disorder rather than one that was previously overlooked (Russell, 1979) 

Population Affected :

...recent evidence suggests that the prevalence of anorexia nervosa among African-Americans is higher than previously thought and is rising. A survey of readers of a popular African-American fashion magazine found levels of abnormal eating attitudes and body dissatisfaction that were at least as high as similar survey of Caucasian women. 

Other American ethnic groups also may have higher levels of eating disorders than previously recognized (Pate et al, 1992). A recent study of early adolescent girls found that Hispanic and Asian American girls showed greater body dissatisfaction than white girls (Robinson, et al, 1996). 

The notion that eating disorders are associated with upper socioeconomic status (SES) also has been challenged. Association between anorexia nervosa and upper SES has been poorly demonstrated, and bulimia nervosa may actually have an opposite relationship with SES. In fact, several studies have shown that bulimia nervosa was more common in lower SES groups. Thus any association between wealth and eating disorders requires further study (Gard and Freeman, 1996). 
Drs. Miller and Pumariega: MHi: Culture and Eating Disorders 1994. 

In Families 

Specialists agree that eating disorders tend to run in families. Among women in the United States anorexia nervosa (AN) has a prevalence of between 0.2% and 0.5%, while that of bulimia nervosa (BN) is from 2% to 3% (Hsu, 1966). ...The lifetime risk of developing an eating disorder for a first-degree relative of an individual with an eating disorder is 6% compared to only 1% among relatives of controls (Gorwood et al, 1998). 
MHI: Psychiatric Times: Sept. 1998, Deborah A. Lott 

Dr. Ira Sacker states that he is treating patients who can trace the incidence of eating disorders in their families back for four generations. 


(Developed in conjunction with Dr. Ira Sacker, Director of Helping to End Eating Disorders, at Brookdale Hospital and author of best-selling, Dying To Be Thin), by Barbara Kent Lawrence, Ed.D. author of Bitter Ice: A memoir of love, food, and obsession, Wm. Morrow & Co., Publishers, New York, 1999.