There are many myths and misconceptions about eating disorders. This is mainly due to a lack of education and awareness.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the most common myths about eating disorders include:
Myth: You can tell if a person has an eating disorder by their appearance.
Fact: Some people can have obvious signs of eating disorders, but others may not. Those who struggle with disordered eating behaviors can also hide their symptoms for months, years, or even a lifetime.
Myth: Eating disorders are a choice.
Fact: Eating disorders are not a choice. They are complex conditions that develop over time. Eating disorders require effective treatment to address all of the medical, psychiatric and emotional issues.
Myth: Anorexia is “dieting gone bad.”
Fact: Anorexia has nothing to do with dieting. It is a life-threatening medical and psychiatric disorder that needs to be taken seriously.
Myth: Eating disorders are not illnesses.
Fact: According to the DSM-IV, eating disorders are classified as mental illnesses. There is also proof that these disorders have a biological / genetic component, and often co-exist with mentalconditions of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Myth: Only females get eating disorders
Fact: Although research indicates that eating disorders are more common in females, there is solid proof that eating disorders occur in males. Approximately 1/4 of anorexia nervosa diagnoses in children are male. There is also research showing that 7% of eating disorders among athletes are male.
Myth: A person cannot die from bulimia.
Fact: Although death from bulimia is much lower than that of anorexia, a bulimic can be at high risk for sudden death because of purging, its impact on the heart, and electrolyte imbalances.
Myth: Kids under age 15 are too young to have an eating disorder.
Fact: Eating disorders have been diagnosed in children as young as 7-8 years old. Often, the behaviors are not recognized until the mid to late teens.
Next issue: More myths and misconceptions about eating disorders.