There are many myths surrounding the subject ofeating disorders, including thetypes of people they affect,the causes and the signs. Hereare some of the most commonmyths about eating disorders:
MYTH #1: Eating disorders only affect women.REALITY: 25% of people whosuffer from eating disordersare men. Due to the gender bias ofclinicians, an eating disorder in amale is less likely to be diagnosed as anorexia or bulimia. Also due tostigma and misunderstandingssurrounding eating disorders, males areless likely to admit their problem andseek help.
MYTH #2: Men with eating disorders tend to be homosexual. REALITY: Sexual preference has nocorrelation with developing aneating disorder.
MYTH #3: Eating disorders are only a problem for people of high socioeconomic status.REALITY: Eating disorders can affectpeople in all socioeconomicgroups. Because much of the research that hasbeen done on eating disorders only consideredyoung people who were already diagnosed, peoplewho lack the resources or insurance to seek helpwere overlooked. Although difference in income andinsurance coverage have made eating disordersseem like only a "high-class" problem, it has beenshown that eating disorders can affect people fromany socioeconomic group.
MYTH #4: Eating disorders are all about beauty and appearance. REALITY: Eating disorders continue longafter a person has reached his or her"target weight," proving that eatingdisorders cannot be simplified into anissue with appearance.Eating disorders are amental illness usually relatedto emotional issues such as control,low self-esteem and poor body image.
MYTH #5: The fashion industry is to blame.REALITY: Although thefashion and modelingindustries may play a role inpromoting eating disorders, theyare not a principle cause. Manypeople are exposed to the media ideal of "thin"everyday, but not everyone develops an eatingdisorder. More important factors that influence thedevelopment of an eating disorder includegenetics and personality traits.
MYTH #6:Disordered eatingis uncommon.REALITY: The criteria doctors use to diagnoseeating disorders are very strict, making theincidence of anorexia and bulimia very low (onlyabout 0.5 percent of the population have anorexia,and 1 percent to 2 percent have bulimia). However,anorexia-like and bulimia-like habitsare very common. Just because it is notdiagnosed as an eating disorder, similar eatinghabits and emotional problems should not bedismissed.
MYTH #7: Bulimics only purge by vomiting.REALITY: A person does not haveto make themselves vomit in order tohave bulimia. Although vomiting is a common way topurge after binge-eating, people with bulimia may alsoexercise compulsively and/or use laxatives. Therefore,vomiting is not what characterizesbulimia; its core element is the cycleof binge-eating followed by purgingin any form.
MYTH #8: Eating disorders are not deadly.REALITY: Fortunately, most people suffering froman eating disorder recover with proper treatmentincluding an extensive team of experts. However, ifleft untreated eating disorders canbe deadly. In five to 10 percent of cases ofthose with the disorder, anorexia causes deatheither from suicide, heart problems or othercomplications of the disorder.
SourcesNational Eating Disorder Association“Common Myths About Eating Disorders”http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/information-retoolkit.phpCBS News“9 Deadly Myths About Eating Disorders”http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-204_162-10005824.htm