(Simon Sherry/ The Conversation) — Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are serious health risks, and can be life-threatening. They are also common, especially among teenage girls.
More than 100,000 Canadians over the age of 15 are diagnosed with an eating disorder each year. Onset usually occurs between ages 14 and 19. In fact, eating disorders are the third most common chronic illness among teens.
Adolescence is also when eating disorders have the greatest negative effects on health. Five per cent of the general population in North America will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime, but few people seek treatment. The prevalence of eating disorders and struggles to access help highlight the need to increase awareness and decrease stigma.
The greatest risk factor for eating disorders is sex. Eating disorders occur 10 times more often in females than in males. However, genetic, biological, psychological and cultural factors all affect the development of an eating disorder. (…)