FACT or FICTION?: Understanding Eating Disorder

The first step in understanding eating disorders and why they occur is to dispel some of the common misconceptions that stray from the truth surrounding this health issue. Below are five statements regarding eating disorders. Can you separate fact from fiction?

You may physically suffer from an eating disorder, but it cannot result in death.

Fiction.

Anorexia nervosa has the highest fatality rate among all psychiatric illnesses. Anorexia nervosa is twelve times more likely to claim the life of females aged 15-24 than any other cause of death.

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Eating disorders can lead to further emotional complications.

Fact.

Nearly 50% of those with eating disorders meet the conditions for depression. Other forms of mental illness can coincide with an eating disorder, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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The only consequence of an eating disorder is weight loss.

Fiction.

In cases of anorexia nervosa, the physical effects can include heart and kidney failure, reduction of bone density, muscle loss, dehydration, and hair loss. In cases of bulimia nervosa, physical effects can include pancreatitis, tooth decay, and irregular heartbeat.

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Eating disorders do occur across gender lines.

Fact.

10%-20% of female and 4%-10% of male students have some sort of clinical eating disorder. Among male college undergraduates, 25% reported binge eating and 24% reported fasting within the last month. Men are less likely than women to seek treatment due to the common perception that eating disorders are female-derived.

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You cannot recover from an eating disorder if you are in a critical, physical condition.

Fiction.

With adequate treatment, 60% of those suffering from an eating disorder do recover. It is never too late to seek help.

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