Eating Disorders

People with eating disorders experience serious disturbances in their eating patterns, such as a severe and unhealthy reduction in their food intake or overeating, as well as extreme concern about body shape or weight. Eating disorders usually develop during adolescence or early adulthood. Eating disorders are not due to weak willpower or bad behavior; rather, they are real, treatable illnesses. The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Who has eating disorders?

Women are much more likely than men to develop an eating disorder. Only an estimated five to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.An estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of women suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime. Research suggests that about 1 percent of female adolescents have anorexia.An estimated 1.1 to 4.2 percent of women have bulimia nervosa in their lifetime.About 50 percent of people who have had anorexia develop bulimia or bulimic patterns.

What treatments are available?

Eating disorders are treatable. The sooner they are diagnosed and treated, the better the outcomes are likely to be. Eating disorders require a comprehensive, long-term treatment plan that usually involves individual or family therapy, and that may include medication and even immediate hospitalization. Unfortunately, many people with eating disorders will not admit they are ill and refuse treatment. Support from family and friends are vital to successful treatment and recovery.


Eating Disorders: About More than Food - A downloadable booklet that describes the symptoms, causes, and treatments of eating disorders from the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH)

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

Rogers Memorial Hospital: Call (800)767-4411 to talk to a specialist or request a free screening online. Rogers is a nationally respected leader in the treatment of eating disorders for male and female teens, adults, and children.

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD): Offers hotline counseling; operates an international network of support groups and offers referrals to health care professionals who treat eating disorders; publishes a national quarterly newsletter, and will mail information packets customized to individual needs upon request.

Eating Disorder Information and Referral Center: A resource for information and treatment options for all forms of eating disorders. It includes referrals to local treatment centers nationwide.

Overeaters Anonymous (OA): OA is a non-profit organization that provides volunteer support groups worldwide. Modeled after the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program, the OA recovery program addresses physical, emotional and spiritual recovery aspects of compulsive overeating. Members are encouraged to seek professional help for individual diet and nutrition plans and for any emotional or physical problems.

The Renfrew Center Foundation: A non-profit organization promoting the education, prevention, treatment and research of eating disorders. The nation’s first freestanding facility committed to the treatment of eating disorders.