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At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S.

Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness


Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

  • Skipping meals, making excuses for not eating or eating in secret

  • Excessive focus on food

  • Persistent worry or complaining about being fat

  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws

  • Misusing laxatives, diuretics or enemas after eating

  • Excessive exercise

  • Regularly going to the bathroom right after eating or during meals

  • Eating much more food in a meal or snack than is considered normal

  • Expressing depression, disgust, shame or guilt about eating habits

Specific to Teens 

  • Societal pressure. Popular culture tends to place a premium on being thin. Even with a normal body weight, teens can easily develop the perception that they're fat. This can trigger an obsession with losing weight and dieting.

  • Favorite activities. Participation in activities that value leanness — such as modeling and elite athletics — can increase the risk of teen eating disorders.

  • Personal factors. Genetics or biological factors might make some teens more likely to develop eating disorders. Personality traits such as perfectionism, anxiety or rigidity also might play a role.

How Do I Get Help?

An eating disorder can be difficult to manage or overcome by yourself. Eating disorders can virtually take over your life. If you're experiencing any of these problems, or if you think you may have an eating disorder, seek a mental health professional. If you're worried about a loved one, urge him or her to talk to a mental health professional.

For parents. here are some strategies to help your teen develop healthy-eating behaviors:

  • Talk to your teen - It's crucial to correct any misperceptions about food and talk to your teen about the risks of unhealthy eating choices.

  • Cultivate and reinforce a healthy body image - in your teen, whatever his or her shape or size. Avoid criticizing your own body in front of your child. Messages of acceptance and respect can help build healthy self-esteem and resilience that will carry children through the rocky periods of the teen years.

If you notice a family member or friend who seems to show signs of an eating disorder, consider talking to that person about your concern for his or her well-being. Although you may not be able to prevent an eating disorder from developing, reaching out with compassion may encourage the person to seek treatment.

Additional Resources

For a more detailed resource on Eating Disorders, click and download this PDF:  

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