Understanding Eating Disorders (Part 3)

March 13, 2017

Understanding Eating Disorders (Part 3)

Even though the awareness of eating disorders has increased in the recent years, many misconceptions about them still exist. Most people keep on associating these ailments with adolescent girls and young women. Nevertheless, it is determined that eating disorders affect all the population groups, regardless of their gender, age, race, socioeconomic standing, and sexual orientation.

Misconceptions about Eating Disorders

Gender

Males are affected by eating disorders in considerable ways, similarly to women. Almost 40% of the patients diagnosed with BED are males. Anorexia and bulimia are also becoming more widespread among boys and men. In general, 25-40% of people with all types of eating disorders are men. Their behavior patterns are similar to those of women with eating disorders (perfectionism, excessive exercise, etc).

Sexual Orientation 

Multiple challenges encountered by the LGBTQ community (such as peer harassment) lead to low self-esteem and negative body image. Lesbians, homosexuals and bisexuals at their teenage years are even more susceptible to the development of binge-eating disorder and bulimia than heterosexual boys and girls of the same age. Similar trends are observed among transgender teenagers.

Race and Ethnicity

Multiple studies have shown that eating disorders are detected in the individuals of all racial and ethnical groups. For example, the African-American girls aged from 11 to 14 have levels of negative body image, which are similar to those of the Caucasian ones. The Asian and Hispanic girls express even more body and weight dissatisfaction than their peers. Studies have revealed that among the Native Americans, 21% of boys and 28% of girls are engaged in purging behaviors.

Military

The tendency to develop eating disorders has become comparatively high among both male and female members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Recent statistics show that about 4% of men and 5.5% of women who serve in the military have suffered from an eating disorder. These numbers tend to increase after several years of continued service. Other statistical data show even higher numbers of military men and women who meet at least some criteria for various eating disorders.

Adults

Men and women of all ages can develop eating disorders. For example, about one-third of the individuals admitted to hospitals with eating disorders are aged 30 and older. Moreover, researchers have detected a considerable increase in the number of the middle-aged adults who have negative body image. The women aged from 61 to 92 have admitted that their biggest bodily concern is their weight. Another survey has revealed that 20% of women in their 70s adhere to strict diets to lose weight, even though such behaviors can be risky in this age group.

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