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Eating disorders, which include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, are common disorders that can lead to serious health issues without treatment.

Binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa tend to occur more often than anorexia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa disorders have a median onset age of 18 years old, while binge eating disorder has a median onset age of 21 years old.

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Prevalence Of Eating Disorders By Age

These statistics show how eating disorders affect different age groups in the U.S:

  • Binge eating disorder among adults aged 18 and over has an overall prevalence of 2.1 percent and a lifetime prevalence of 2.8 percent.
  • The highest rate of binge eating is 1.5 percent for ages 45 through 59 followed by 1.4 percent for ages 18 through 29. Ages 30 through 44 have a rate of 1.1 percent, while ages 60 and up have a rate of 0.8 percent.
  • Among adults with binge eating disorder, 62.6 percent have some degree of impairment, while 18.5 percent experienced severe impairment.
  • Bulimia nervosa has an overall prevalence of 0.3 percent and a lifetime prevalence of 1.0 percent among adults aged 18 and up.
  • The highest rate of bulimia nervosa is 0.4 percent for ages 30 through 44 and ages 45 through 59. Ages 18 through 29 have a rate of 0.3 percent, while ages 60 and up have a rate of 0.1 percent.
  • Among adults with bulimia nervosa, 78 percent had some degree of impairment, while 43.9 percent had severe impairment.
  • Anorexia nervosa has a lifetime prevalence of 0.6 percent among adults ages 18 and up.
  • Among adolescents between 13 and 18 years old, eating disorders have a prevalence of 2.7 percent. The rate for ages 13 through 14 is 2.4 percent, while the rate for ages 15 through 16 is 2.8 percent.
  • The rate of eating disorders for ages 17 through 18 is 3.0 percent.

Eating Disorders In Men And Women

Eating disorders tend to occur more often in women compared to men:

  • Binge eating disorder occurs twice as often in women compared to men. The rate among women ages 18 and up in the U.S. is 1.6 percent compared to a rate of 0.8 percent in men.
  • Bulimia nervosa occurs roughly five times more often in women than men. The rate among women ages 18 and up in the U.S. is 0.5 percent compared to 0.1 percent in men.
  • Anorexia nervosa occurs roughly three times more often in women than men. The rate among women ages 18 and up in the U.S. is 0.9 percent compared to 0.3 percent in men.
  • Among adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18, eating disorders occurred more often in girls. The rate for girls is 3.8 percent compared to a rate of 1.5 percent in boys.

Eating Disorders And The Rate Of Co-occurring Conditions

Eating disorders commonly co-occur with other types of mental health disorders:

  • Roughly 56.2 percent of adults in the U.S. with anorexia nervosa, 94.5 percent with bulimia nervosa, and 78.9 percent with binge eating disorder also met criteria for one or more core DSM mental health disorders.
  • All three types of eating disorders co-occurred most often with any type of anxiety disorder. For those with anorexia nervosa, the rate was 47.9 percent. For bulimia nervosa, the rate was 80.6 percent. For binge eating disorder, the rate was 65.1 percent.
  • For any type of mood disorder, the rate of co-occurrence was 42.1 percent for anorexia nervosa, 70.7 percent for bulimia nervosa, and 46.4 percent with binge eating disorder.
  • For impulse control disorder, the rate of co-occurrence was 30.8 percent for anorexia nervosa, 63.8 percent for bulimia nervosa, and 43.3 percent for binge eating disorder.
  • For substance use disorder, the rate of co-occurrence was 27 percent for anorexia nervosa, 36.8 percent for bulimia nervosa, and 23.3 percent for binge eating disorder.

Eating Disorders: Treatment Statistics

Treatment for eating disorders can involve medication, therapy, or a combination of both, along with lifestyle changes. Take a look at some treatment statistics:

  • Among adults in the U.S., roughly a third of those with anorexia nervosa sought treatment, while around 43 percent with bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder sought treatment.
  • Roughly 47 percent of women with bulimia nervosa and 50.8 percent of women with binge eating disorder sought treatment.
  • Around 29 percent of men with bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder sought treatment.
  • Roughly 29.8 percent of women with anorexia nervosa sought treatment compared to 50.2 percent of men.
  • Between 50 and 63.2 percent of those with eating disorders also received treatment for emotional problems at some point during their lives.