Survey suggests 65% of women in the U.S. could have an eating disorder

Researchers in the U.S. have discovered that as many as 65 percent of women between the ages of 25 to 45, have some form of eating disorder and another 10 percent admit to having eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa or binge eating.

These startling revelations were the result of an online survey conducted by SELF Magazine and researchers from the University of North Carolina's School of Medicine.

The survey has also revealed that as many as 75 percent of the 4,023 respondents queried about their food habits, eat, think and behave abnormally around food and this was across the whole racial and ethnic representation and not limited to any one group.

Cynthia R. Bulik, a professor of eating disorders and director of the UNC Eating Disorders Program, says most surprising was the unexpectedly high number of women who engage in unhealthy purging activities.

It appears that more than 31 percent of women in the survey, in an attempt to lose weight, had resorted to induced vomiting, taken laxatives, diuretics or diet pills at some point in their lives - and more than 50 percent engaged in purging activities at least a few times a week, and many did so on a daily basis.

The women commonly reported skipping meals altogether, smoking to stay slim, being overly vigilant with regard to calories and avoiding carbohydrates, among their eating behaviours.

The survey also revealed that 67 percent of women were trying to lose weight and 53 percent of dieters, already at a healthy weight, are still trying to lose weight.

Possibly more of a concern was that 39 percent of women say worrying about what they eat or weigh affects their happiness.

Professor Bulik will present the survey findings next month at the Academy for Eating Disorder’ 2008 International Conference on Eating Disorders in Seattle and the survey will be published in the May issue of SELF Magazine.

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