Eating Disorder Myths and Facts

The Truth About Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complex illnesses, life-interrupting, and sometimes life-threatening illnesses. In the United States, estimates suggest that eating disorders—including Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)—affect 20 million women and 10 million men at some point in their lives. Despite the widespread prevalence of eating disorders in women, men, teens and children, many misconceptions and myths exist:

Myth: Eating disorders are about food.

Fact: While eating disorders generally involve a fixation on calories, weight or shape, these illnesses involve biological, psychological and sociocultural aspects and often signify an attempt to control something of substance in the individual’s life.

Myth: Eating disorders are a women’s illness.

Fact: While research shows that eating disorders affect significantly more women than men, these illnesses affect men and boys as well.

Myth: Eating disorders are an illness of choice.

Fact: No one chooses to have an eating disorder. These diseases develop as a result of a variety of factors, including genetics.

Myth: Treating an eating disorder is as simple as “eating more” or “eating healthier.”

Fact: Because friends and loved ones mistakenly believe that eating disorders are just about food, they will often encourage individuals to “just eat” to be “cured” of this illness.

The pages that follow contain additional information about eating disorders. If your eating disorder questions aren’t answered here, we invite you to contact us and speak with a master’s-level therapist from our Clinical Assessment team. Call 916-574-1000, email, or chat live by clicking the icon in the top right corner of your screen.