Fast Facts – Eating Disorders


Eating Disorders are mental illnesses are related to physical and emotional problems, and involve food and weight. Many factors contribute to the development of an eating disorder, including genetics, emotional health, peer pressure and the environment.

Characteristics of different eating disorders:

  • – Anorexia Nervosa: excessive weight loss triggered by self-starvatio
  • – Bulimia Nervosa: cycles of binging and self-induced vomiting or abuse of lax
  • – Binge Eating Disorders: eating a large quantity of food in a very short period of time without purging

Overcoming Misconceptions, Overcoming Stigma:

  • – Eating disorders are a serious and complex biological disease
  • – Eating disorders are a form of mental illness
  • – Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness
  • – Eating disorders are not about vanity or a lifestyle choice
  • – People of all ages, genders, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations have eating disorders
  • – One’s BMI (body mass index) is not a determinant for eating disorder

Like other identities, stigma related to eating disorders leads to isolation, shaming and low self-esteem.

Only 22% of adolescents with an eating disorder seek specialized help for their problem[i].

Healthcare providers oftentimes stigmatize people with eating disorders by blaming them for their illness[ii].


[i] Swanson SA, Crow SJ, Le Grange D, Swendsen J, Merikangas KR. Prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in adolescents. Results from the national comorbidity survey replication adolescent supplement. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011 Jul;68(7):714-23.

[ii] Fleming, J., Szmukler, G. Attitudes of medical professionals towards patients with eating disorders. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 1992 (26)3:436-443


Spotlight Calendar

Each month B Stigma-Free Spotlights different areas and focuses our attention on how each identity is affected by stigma. Blog articles, fact sheets and social media emphasis call attention to the identified topic. Do you have a suggested topic for us? Tell us your idea here.


Future Spotlight Topics:

November 2015 – PTSD

December 2015 – Religion

January 2016 – Socio-Economic Status

February 2016 – Eating Disorders

March 2016 – Gender

April 2016 – Substance Abuse

May 2016 – Older People

September 2016 – Albinism

October 2016 – Learning Disabilities