eating disorder factsBy Jennifer Bundrant

From an early age we are fed the idea of the “perfect” body image.

Some of us don’t even realize this because it’s everywhere – TV shows, movies, magazines, commercials. These idealistic images become an everyday part of life.

For some of us it has no real effect. We go about our day-to-day lives and can filter out the Photoshop fantasies promoted by marketing departments.

However, for certain people it’s not that easy. The idea of being perfect gets in the way of reality. An eating disorder is born.

Eating disorders are more common than we think, and include anorexia nervosa, bulimia, eating disorders not otherwise specified, such as binge eating.

Here are 12 facts about eating disorders you need to know, according to the National Institute for Mental Health.

1. Eating disorders affect 20 million women around the world.

2. It’s not just women. 10 million men have eating disorders severe enough to require treatment.

3. Industry experts attribute this staggering number of eating disorders among men to social influences and the trend of lean and muscular male models.

4. Men are less likely to receive treatment because of the perception that it’s a woman’s disease.

5. Eating disorders can develop at an early age.  Research has shown that eating disorders can appear in children as young as five. This may be due to weight-obsessed older siblings or parents, or emotional/psychological abuse.

6. Among American elementary school girls who read magazines, 69 percent say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape, and 47 percent say the pictures make them want to be thinner.

7. Eating disorders cause serious health complications, including death.

8. Eating disorders can affect and damage cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, dermatological, hematological, skeletal, and central nervous systems.

9. They can also be terminal due to heart or other organ failure, and malnutrition.

10. Eating disorders have the highest mortality than any other psychiatric disorder.

11. Eating disorders have higher death rate than any other cause of death in young girls from 15-24.

12. Having an eating disorder should not be taken lightly and people with them should receive treatment, as most people do not recover without intervention.

Eating disorders are not just a trend that we see in the media, or something that only people on TV or models in magazines have to deal with.

Eating disorders are a real threat that affects more of us than we realize. If you believe you show signs of an eating disorder, please realize that you health – and your life – are on the line and seek help.

Laurie Daily-Murphy, Director of Harmony Grove, an eating disorder treatment facility in San Diego, California, points out that healing from an eating disorder is an opportunity get in touch with your body’s deeper needs and experience the love, healing and inner peace that has been missing in your life.

“The one regret our clients have,” said Laurie, “is that they did not begin the recovery process sooner.”