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Eating Disorder Blues

Staff and patient inside a clinic

I walked past the Junior’s department while shopping with my wife and discovered that teen girl garments are getting smaller and smaller, in terms of covering the body. I don’t know what this crowd is going to do as winter approaches, but I’m glad that I don’t treat frostbite!

With societal pressure like this, I urge parents to remain on alert for signs of eating disorders.  These include a preoccupation with dieting, fat grams, calories, or excessive exercise, among the long list provided at the website,

Of course, parents also have eating disorders and I see evidence of current or past bulimia most often. When stomach acids repeatedly come in contact with teeth, they create a telling pattern.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders is actually in Chicago. Their website is, and they offer Support Groups and Mentorship programs for those who struggle or have struggled with eating disorders. Here, I list some telling statistics from their site:

  • At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. 1, 2
  • Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result of an eating disorder.3
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.4
  • 13% of women over 50 engage in eating disorder behaviors.5
  • Genetics, environmental factors, and personality traits all combine to create a risk for an eating disorder.9

Anorexia Nervosa:

  • 1 in 5 anorexia deaths is by suicide.10
  • 50-80% of the risk for anorexia and bulimia is genetic.11
  • 33-50% of anorexia patients have a comorbid mood disorder, such as depression.
  • About half of anorexia patients have comorbid anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobia.12

Bulimia Nervosa:

  • More than half of bulimia patients have comorbid anxiety disorders.12
  • Nearly 1 in 10 bulimia patients have a comorbid substance abuse disorder, usually alcohol use. 12

Binge Eating Disorder (BED):

  • 8% of American adults suffer from binge eating disorder in their lifetime.1
  • Approximately half of the risk for BED is genetic.12
  • Binge eating or loss-of-control eating may be as high as 25% in post-bariatric patients. 13


  • Diabulimia is deliberate insulin underuse in people with type 1 diabetes for the purpose of controlling weight.
  • About 38% of females and 16% of males with type 1 diabetes have disordered eating behaviors.15
  • Insulin omission increases risks for retinopathy, neuropathy, and diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • In a longitudinal study, diabulimia increased mortality risk threefold.1