Eating Disorders - What you Might not Know

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — February 7, 2020 — 3 min read
Nationally, eating disorders affect about 30 million Americans – 20 million women and 10 million men, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

The last week in February is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness). The goal of this awareness week is to shine a “spotlight on eating disorders by educating the public, spreading a message of hope, and putting lifesaving resources into the hands of those in need.”

Most people have likely heard of these commonly discussed eating disorders:
  • Anorexia Nervosa – Characterized by weight loss and calorie restriction
  • Bulimia Nervosa – A cycle of binge eating and self-induced vomiting to undo the effects of the binge eating
  • Binge Eating Disorder – Eating large amounts of food quickly and to the point of discomfort with no purging or other measures to counter the effects of the binge eating. (This is the most common disorder in the United States, according to NEDA.)
However, there are other eating disorders that are discussed less often. Some of those include:
  • Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) – Examples include purging disorder (in the absence of binge eating) and Night Eating Disorder, which involves awakening and eating, or excessive eating after the evening meal
  • Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) – Limitations set on the amount or types of food consumed; does not involve distress over body shape or size
  • Pica – Eating items not typically thought of as food such as dirt, hair or paint chips
Eating disorders affect all races and ethnic groups. Genetics, environmental factors, and personality traits all combine to create risk for an eating disorder.

Co-occurring disorders

Individuals diagnosed with eating disorders often have another co-occurring mental illness. A 2014 study of more than 2,400 people hospitalized for an eating disorder found that 97% had one or more co-occurring conditions.

Stigma, Bullying and Body Shaming

Weight stigma has been documented as a risk for depression, low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction, according to NEDA. One commonly known environmental contributor to the development of an eating disorder is society’s idealization of being thin.



We Can Help

Cardinal Innovations has resources to help you or your family member with an eating disorder. Here are some common signs that someone may have an eating disorder:
  • Overly concerned about body shape and weight
  • Engage in extreme exercise and dieting
  • Feel the need to purge, or “get rid of,” their food after eating
  • Eat alone or in secret
  • Restrict or indulge in eating
  • Experience extreme tiredness
Taking a brief anonymous online screening is a quick way to determine if you or someone you care about should connect with a behavioral health professional. Screenings for eating disorders and other concerns are available.
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