Common Myths About Eating Disorders
There are a slew of myths surrounding eating disorders due to the complicated nature of eating disorders. Its most basic premise: eating disorders encompass body weight and image and the relationship to a person’s self-worth.Those who suffer from an eating disorder may have a skewed view of body images and obsessive thoughts about how to become thinner or how to avoid weight gain.
The mortality rate for people with eating disorders is the highest of all psychiatric illnesses—more than 12 times higher than that for people without eating disorders. Despite the common myth that anorexia is the only life-threatening disorder, there are others. Bulimia has showed competing mortality rates with anorexia at 3.9% and anorexia at 4%.
Without treatment, it’s believed that as many as 20% of individuals will die at the hands of an eating disorder. Even if an eating disorder doesn’t prove to be fatal, there are still grave medical consequences associated with self-induced starvation and purging. Some believe that the disease is solely prevalent among Caucasian girls. This is actually far from the truth. Eating disorders don’t discriminate. They affect people of both genders, in all age groups and are pervasive in every racial and cultural background.
While females do represent 90% of affected population, male eating disorders now account for at least 10% of all cases. It’s important to remember that eating disorders aren’t a choice. Attempts to maintain a thin body can turn into obsessive behavior. Minus the significant biological and psychological differences between men and women, the causes of eating disorders is fairly consistent between the two genders in that it’s often hereditary.
While families obviously don’t cause eating disorders, their genes may. Illnesses have been shown to run in families and are as likely to be inherited as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Somewhere between 40–50% of the risk of developing an eating disorder is attributed to heredity. A woman with a mother or sister who has anorexia is 12 times more likely to develop the disease than the general population and is 4 times more likely to develop bulimia nervosa. Those with a genetic predisposition often don’t recognize their disorder because it’s dormant and will only be triggered by a traumatic life event.
Eating disorder myths can hinder affected people from recognizing their illness and seeking the appropriate help. Raising awareness through education efforts is the single most effective force in promoting a better understanding of eating disorders among the general public.
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