The Counseling Center
Purdue University Northwest
Eating disorders in the United States
Eating Disorder Statistics
- As many as 20 million women and 10 million men experience an eating disorder at some point in their lives (Wade, Kelski-Rahkonen, & Hudson, 2011)
- The average age that eating disorders begin:
- Anorexia Nervosa: 19 years old
- Bulimia Nervosa: 20 years old
- Binge Eating Disorder: 25 years old
(Hudson, Hiripi, Pope, & Kessler, 2007)
What causes the development of an eating disorder?
There is no “one cause” of eating disorders. Eating disorders may develop as the result of a combination of biological, psychological, social, and familial issues.
Types of eating disorders
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)
- Includes Binge-Eating Disorder
- Not maintaining body weight at, or above, a minimally normal weight level based on age and height
- Having an intense fear of weight gain, even when underweight
- Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight
- For post-pubescent females, the absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles
(American Psychiatric Association, 2000)
- Binge eating, which consists of the following:
- In a specific period of time, eating substantially more food than others in a similar period time, and under similar circumstances, would eat
- Feeling no control, or a lack of control, of the binge eating session
- Engaging in behaviors in order to prevent weight gain
- These behaviors may include self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, and/or enemas
- The binge eating and inappropriate behaviors occur at least twice a week for 3 months
- Overly concerned with how one’s body shape and weight affects self-worth
(American Psychiatric Association, 2000)
Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)
Eating Disorder NOS has a combination of symptoms from the category of eating disorders, but does not meet the criteria of a specific eating disorder.
Binge-Eating Disorder has similar symptoms to Bulimia Nervosa (e.g. eating large amounts of food in short time periods and feeling a lack of control when eating). Individuals suffering from this disorder will exhibit three or more of the following:
- Eating more rapidly than normal
- Eating until physically uncomfortable
- Eating when not hungry
- Eating alone because of embarrassment
- Feeling disgusted, depressed or guilty after overeating
Individuals with Binge-Eating Disorder do not engage in behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as fasting, dieting, excessive exercise, using laxatives, etc.
(American Psychiatric Association, 2000)
Society and culture
Media in today’s society is filled with images which skew the definition of a “healthy” body.
- In various studies, girls and boys as young as 4 and 5 years old recognized that the unhealthy images of thinness in mass media are portrayed as ideal (as cited in Levine & Murnen, 2009).
The meaning of body image
The meaning of “body image” varies for every individual. In publications by Levine and Smolak, (2006) females interpret body image as being influenced by multiple components. These include the following beliefs:
- Being slender is idealized in society,
- One should fear being fat, and
- A person’s weight and shape greatly influence their overall identity as cited in Levine & Murnen, (2009)
Men also suffer from eating disorders
Although more women than men suffer from eating disorders, men may also fall victim to the symptoms of these disorders.
Preventing eating disorders
Effective prevention of eating disorders should address the following:
- Learning how to live a healthy lifestyle through nutritious eating and physical activity
- Understanding that self-worth is not purely defined by physical appearance
- Challenging society’s misleading messages about beauty
- Developing realistic expectations of self and body image
- Accepting one’s physical characteristics
Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Body Mass Index (BMI) is the measure of body fat based on a person’s height and weight.
- Underweight = <18.5
- Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
- Overweight = 25–29.9
- Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
- BMI can be used for both men and women.
- Be aware that the BMI scale may overestimate body fat in athletes and those who have a muscular build, and may underestimate body fat in older persons.
- Calculate your BMI [Opens in New Window].
Eating Disorder screening
Stop by the PNW Counseling Center for a confidential eating disorder screening at no additional cost for currently enrolled students.
Hammond Campus – 2200 169th Street, Gyte 005, Hammond, Indiana 46323
Westville Campus – 1401 S. U.S. Hwy. 421, TECH 101, Westville, Indiana 46391
Call at 219-989-2366 or stop by to make an appointment
For a free and confidential online eating disorder screening, visit the Screening for Mental Health, Inc. Online Screening Program [Opens in New Window] . From here click on Screening Locator to choose your state and university.
Get help today
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Information and Referral Helpline
- Phone: 1-800-931-2237
- Website [Opens in New Window]
- Additional information about eating disorders [Opens in New Window]
Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA)
ULifeline. ULifeline provides a quick (5-10 min) mental health screener, as well as information on other topics concerning mental health and suicide prevention.
ULifeline through the Counseling Center website.
Half of us. Half of us is a resource center that provides information on a variety of issues such as depression, bipolar disorder, suicide, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, stress and alcohol/drugs.
The Purdue University Northwest Counseling Center offers personal counseling to currently enrolled PNW students at no additional fee and is confidential as established by law. To set up an appointment or for additional information, please contact the PNW Counseling Center at (219) 989-2366. You may also visit our website.
- Everybody knows somebody who has been affected by an eating disorder, or has struggled with body image expectations.
- Visit National Eating Disorders [Opens in New Window] and NEDAwareness [Opens in New Window] for more information.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV-TR (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.
- Hudson, J. I., Hiripi, E., Pope, H. G., & Kessler, R. C. (2007). The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Biological Psychiatry, 61, 348-358.
- Levine, M. P. & Harrison, K. (2004). The role of mass media in the perpetuation and prevention of negative body image and disordered eating. In J. K. Thompson (Ed.), Handbook of eating disorders & obesity (pp. 695-717). New York: Wiley.
- Levine, M. P., & Murnen, S. K. (2009). Everybody knows that mass media are/are not [pick one] a cause of eating disorders”: A critical review of evidence for a causal link between media, negative body image, and disordered eating in females. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28, 9-42.
- Levine, M. P., & Smolak, L. (2006). The prevention of eating problems and eating disorders: Theory, research, and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
- National Eating Disorders Association. (2005). Statistics: Eating disorders and their precursors. Retrieved from National Eating Disorders.org PDF.
- Smolak, L., & Levine, M. P. (1994). Critical issues in the developmental psychopathology of eating disorders. In L. Alexander & B. Lumsden (Eds.), Understanding eating disorders (pp. 37-60). Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.
- Smolak, L., & Levine, M. P. (1996). Adolescents’ transitions and the development of eating problems. In L. Smolak, M. P. Levine, & R. Striegel-Moore (Eds.), The psychopathology of eating disorders: Implications for research, prevention, and treatment (pp. 207-234). Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum.
- Smolak, L., & Murnen, S. K. (2004). A feminist approach to eating disorders. In J.K. Thompson (Ed.), Handbook of eating disorders and obesity (pp. 590-605). New York: Wiley.
- Smolak, L., & Murnen, S. K. (2007). Feminism and body image. In V. Swami & A. Furnham (Eds.), The body beautiful: Evolutionary and socio-cultural perspectives (pp. 236-258). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Wade, T. D., Kelski-Rahkonen, A., & Hudson, J. (2011). Epidemiology of eating disorders. In M. Tsuang and M. Tohen (Eds.), Textbook in Psychiatric Epidemiology (3rd ed.) (pp. 343-360). New York: Wiley.