Serious Restrictive Eating Disorders Occur at Any Weight

Although the words “anorexia nervosa” typically conjure up images of emaciated bodies, eating disorders characterized by dietary restriction or weight loss can — and do — occur at any weight. However, precisely because anorexia nervosa is associated with underweight, doctors are less likely to identify eating disorders among individuals who are in the so-called “normal” or above normal weight range, even if they have all the other symptoms of anorexia nervosa.

Clearly, this is a problem.

For one, there is no evidence that eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) — a diagnosis given to individuals who do not fulfill all of the criteria for anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa — is less severe or less dangerous than full syndrome anorexia nervosa. As I’ve blogged about, individuals with EDNOS have comparable mortality rates (see: EDNOS, Bulimia Nervosa, as Deadly as Anorexia Nervosa in Outpatients) and similar (sometimes even more severe) Continue reading →

Lifetime Prevalence of Eating Disorders Among Eating Disorder Professionals

How many professionals that treat eating disorders have a personal history of struggling with an eating disorder? It is a crucial question to ask (and answer) because there are important implications for patient treatment and for the health of the afflicted professionals. It is true that many (or most?) individuals who go into mental health do so because of personal experiences–whether due to their own personal history or the experiences of a loved one–so it is useful to ask, just how common are eating disorders among ED treatment professionals?

This is the question that Nicole Barbarich asked in a survey mailed to 823 members of the Academy for Eating Disorders.

Barbarich developed a 14-item self-report questionnaire that assessed everything from basic demographics to personal eating disorder history and their employer’s hiring policies. Out of 823 potential participants, 399 completed the questionnaire.


Demographics of Survey RespondersContinue reading →

How Common Are Eating Disorders? Incidence, Prevalence and Mortality Rates

Six month of blogging and I have yet to do a proper post on the prevalence of eating disorders. I think it is about time. I see all sorts of numbers thrown around, often depending on the purpose of the article and the author’s bias. Is it 1 in 1000, 1 in 100, 1 in 20 or maybe even 1 in 2? Who is right?

Well, it is a tricky question to answer.

The number depends on how the particular study was conducted. Here are some factors that may influence the final rates: the population being studied, the sample size, the definition of eating disorder, the methods used by researchers to identify and screen for individuals with eating disorders, the number of years over which data is collected, and so on. In other words, a lot! That’s why in order to get a better sense of the true … Continue reading →