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.
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