Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, are associated with a strong feeling of shame, often preventing individuals who struggle with the disorders from seeking help. About 10 million females and about 1 million males are estimated to have an eating disorder in the United States, but the numbers are suspected to be much higher because so few seek treatment.
Experts believe that only about one in 10 of those suffering from eating disorders seek the help they need. The impact of having an eating disorder can be devastating. Many who have eating disorders live with stringent eating behaviors, so that eating in social situations or being invited to last-minute social events that involve food are impossible for them to handle.
There are also many physical consequences to having an eating disorder. The article reports that women with anorexia have a death rate that is 12 times higher than that associated with any other cause of death. This mental disorder can be extremely deadly, with a risk of death higher than that of depression or schizophrenia.
Eating disorders are associated with malnutrition, often resulting in cardiovascular damage and loss of bone density. Because there is a concentration of eating disorders in adolescence, when bone development is still occurring, many young women with eating disorders experience bone density loss that is difficult to repair.