Eating Disorder Statistics

Eating disorders affect people of every age, race, size, gender identity, sexual orientation and background. Learn more about the populations affected—including BIPOC, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities and people in larger bodies—in ANAD’s eating disorder statistics.

General Eating Disorder Statistics

  • Eating disorders affect at least 9% of the population worldwide.1
  • 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime.2
  • Less than 6% of people with eating disorders are medically diagnosed as “underweight.”21
  • 28-74% of risk for eating disorders is through genetic heritability.1
  • Eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid overdose.1
  • 10,200 deaths each year are the direct result of an eating disorder—that’s one death every 52 minutes.2
  • About 26% of people with eating disorders attempt suicide.1
  • 30% of people dealing with eating disorders have experienced sexual abuse.23
  • The economic cost of eating disorders is $64.7 billion every year.2

BIPOC* Eating Disorder Statistics

* BIPOC refers to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color

  • BIPOC are significantly less likely than white people to have been asked by a doctor about eating disorder symptoms.3
  • BIPOC with eating disorders are half as likely to be diagnosed or to receive treatment.2
  • Black people are less likely to be diagnosed with anorexia than white people but may experience the condition for a longer period of time.4
  • Black teenagers are 50% more likely than white teenagers to exhibit bulimic behavior, such as binge-eating and purging.3
  • Hispanic people are significantly more likely to suffer from bulimia nervosa than their non-Hispanic peers.3
  • Asian American college students report higher rates of restriction compared with their white peers and higher rates of purging, muscle building, and cognitive restraint than their white or non-Asian, BIPOC peers.5
  • Asian American college students report higher levels of body dissatisfaction and negative attitudes toward obesity than their non-Asian, BIPOC peers.5

LGBTQ+ Eating Disorder Statistics

  • Gay men are seven times more likely to report binge-eating and twelve times more likely to report purging than heterosexual men.6
  • Gay and bisexual boys are significantly more likely to fast, vomit, or take laxatives or diet pills to control their weight.6
  • Nearly nine in ten (87%) LGBTQ youth reported being dissatisfied with their body.22

  • Rates of body dissatisfaction were higher among transgender and nonbinary youth (90%) compared to cisgender youth (80%).22

  • LGBTQ youth with body dissatisfaction had twice the odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past year compared to LGBTQ youth with body satisfaction. 22

  • Transgender college students report experiencing disordered eating at approximately four times the rate of their cisgender classmates.7
  • 32% of transgender people report using their eating disorder to modify their body without hormones.8
  • 56% of transgender people with eating disorders believe their disorder is not related to their physical body.8
  • Gender dysphoria and body dissatisfaction in transgender people is often cited as a key link to eating disorders.7
  • Non-binary people may restrict their eating to appear thin, consistent with the common stereotype of androgynous people in popular culture.7

People with Disabilities Eating Disorder Statistics

  • Women with physical disabilities are more likely to develop eating disorders.9
  • 20-30% of adults with eating disorders also have autism.10
  • 3-10% of children and young people with eating disorders also have autism.10
  • 20% of women with anorexia have high levels of autistic traits. There is some evidence that these women benefit the least from current eating disorder treatment models.10
  • ADHD is the most commonly missed diagnosis in relation to disordered eating.11

People in Larger Bodies Eating Disorder Statistics

  • Less than 6% of people with eating disorders are medically diagnosed as “underweight.”21
  • Larger body size is both a risk factor for developing an eating disorder and a common outcome for people who struggle with bulimia and binge eating disorder.12
  • People in larger bodies are half as likely as those at a “normal weight” or “underweight” to be diagnosed with an eating disorder.13

Athletes Eating Disorder Statistics

  • Athletes report higher rates of excessive exercise than non‐athletes.14
  • Athletes are more likely to screen positive for an eating disorder than non‐athletes, but percentages across all probable eating disorder diagnoses are similar.14
  • Athletes may be less likely to seek treatment for an eating disorder due to stigma, accessibility, and sport‐specific barriers.14

Veterans Eating Disorder Statistics

  • The most common type of eating disorders among military members is bulimia nervosa.”15
  • Body dysmorphic disorder affects 1-3% of the overall population but 13% of male military members and 21.7% of female military members.15
  • A survey of 3,000 female military members found that the majority of respondents exhibited eating disorder symptoms.15
  • One study found high rates of body dissatisfaction and previous disordered eating behaviors in a sample of young, female Marine Corps recruits.15

Children & Young Adults Eating Disorder Statistics

  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.16
  • 81% of 10 year old children are afraid of being fat.17
  • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.18
  • 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives.19
  • In a college campus survey, 91% of the women admitted to controlling their weight through dieting.20

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  1. Arcelus, Jon et al. “Mortality rates in patients with anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders. A meta-analysis of 36 studies.” Archives of general psychiatry 68,7 (2011): 724-31.
  2. Deloitte Access Economics. The Social and Economic Cost of Eating Disorders in the United States of America: A Report for the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders and the Academy for Eating Disorders. June 2020. Available at:
  3. Becker, A. E., Franko, D. L., Speck, A., & Herzog, D. B. (2003). Ethnicity and differential access to care for eating disorder symptoms. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 33(2), 205-212. doi:10.1002/eat.10129
  4. Sala, M., Reyes-Rodríguez, M. L., Bulik, C. M., & Bardone-Cone, A. (2013). Race, ethnicity, and eating disorder recognition by peers. Eating disorders21(5), 423–436.
  5. Uri, R. C., Wu, Y., Baker, J. H., & Munn-Chernoff, M. A. (2021). Eating disorder symptoms in Asian American college students. Eating Behaviors,
  6. Eating Disorders in LGBTQ+ Populations. (2018, February 21). Retrieved February 22, 2021, from
  7. Lauren Muhlheim, L., PsyD, CEDS. (2020, June 20). Eating Disorders in Transgender People. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from
  8. Duffy, M. E., Henkel, K. E., & Earnshaw, V. A. (2016). Transgender Clients’ Experiences of Eating Disorder Treatment. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, 10(3), 136-149.
  9. Disabilities and Eating Disorders and Their Connection. (2020, September 04). Retrieved February 22, 2021, from,likely%20to%20develop%20eating%20disorders.
  10. Solmi, F., Bentivegna, F., Bould, H., Mandy, W., Kothari, R., Rai, D., . . . Lewis, G. (2020). Trajectories of autistic social traits in childhood and adolescence and Disordered eating behaviours at age 14 years: A UK general population cohort study. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 62(1), 75-85.
  11. Greenblatt, J., MD. (2019, December 27). ADHD and Disordered Eating. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from
  12. People Living in Larger Bodies & Eating Disorders. (2017). Retrieved February 22, 2021, from
  13. Nagata, J. M., Garber, A. K., Tabler, J. L., Murray, S. B., & Bibbins-Domingo, K. (2018). Prevalence and Correlates of Disordered Eating Behaviors Among Young adults with Overweight or Obesity. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 33(8), 1337-1343.
  14. Flatt, R., Thornton, L., Fitzsimmons‐Craft, E., Balantekin, K., Smolar, L., Mysko, C., . . . Bulik, C. (2020, November 30). Comparing eating disorder characteristics and treatment in self‐identified competitive athletes and non‐athletes from the National Eating Disorders Association online screening tool. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from
  15. Mobbs, M. (2018, November 20). What’s Eating Our Veterans? Retrieved February 22, 2021, from
  16. Collins, M., H.S.D., M.P.H. (1991). Body figure perceptions and preferences among preadolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 10(2), 199-208.;2-D
  17. McNutt, S. W., Hu, Y., Schreiber, G. B., Crawford, P. B., Obarzanek, E., & Mellin, L. (1997). A longitudinal study of the dietary practices of black and white girls 9 and 10 years old at enrollment: the NHLBI Growth and Health Study. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 20(1), 27–37.
  18. Gustafson-Larson, A. M., & Terry, R. D. (1992). Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth-grade children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association92(7), 818–822.
  19. Boutelle, K., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Resnick, M. (2002). Weight control behaviors among obese, overweight, and nonoverweight adolescents. Journal of Pediatric Psychology27(6), 531–540.
  20. Noordenbos, G., Oldenhave, A., Muschter, J., & Terpstra, N. (2002). Characteristics and treatment of patients with chronic eating disorders. Eating Disorders10(1), 15–29.
  21. Flament, M., Henderson, K., Buchholz, A., Obeid, N., Nguyen, H., Birmingham, M., Goldfield, G. (2015). Weight Status and DSM-5 Diagnoses of Eating Disorders in Adolescents From the Community. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 54, Issue 5, 403-411.
  22. LGBTQ Youth and Body Dissatisfaction. (2023). Retrieved February 6, 2023 from
  23. Behar, R, Arancibia, M, Sepulveda, E, Muga, A. (2016). Child Sexual Abuse as a Risk Factor in Eating Disorders. Eating Disorders: Prevalence, Risk Factors and Treatment Options. Nova Science Publishers. 149-172. Retrieved April 4, 2023 from
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