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Eating disorders are surrounded by a very large number of myths and misconceptions that make the importance and severity of an eating disorder very difficult to fully understand. Read below as we debunk 10 of the most common eating disorder myths!

MYTH: Only teenagers have eating disorders.

FACT: Eating disorders affect all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, cultures, sexual orientations, body shapes and sizes, geographical locations, educational statuses, and socioeconomic statuses. Eating disorders do not discriminate, there is no immunity against other demographic segments.

MYTH: Eating disorders are a choice or “lifestyle.”

FACT: No one decides that they want to have an eating disorder. There is no exact cause for one developing an eating disorder. Eating disorders are generally believed to be caused by a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

 

MYTH: Males don’t risk the development of an eating disorder.

FACT: About one in three people suffering from an eating disorder are male. In the United States, studies show that eating disorders will affect 10 million males at some point in their lives.

 

MYTH: People with an eating disorder are just in a phase and will eventually just grow out of it.

FACT: Eating disorders are not a phase or a choice made by someone. Eating disorders are serious, complex, and potentially life-threatening mental and physical illnesses that require professional attention to be effectively treated.

 

MYTH: Parents are to blame if their child develops an eating disorder.

FACT: There is no evidence that parenting style and actions are the cause of their child developing an eating disorder. Eating disorders develop from a combination of factors. Parents are not to blame but they are crucial to recovery.

 

MYTH: Strict dieting is nothing to be concerned about.

FACT: What appears to be a strict diet on the outside may actually be the beginning of an eating disorder. Chronic dieting has been associated with the later development of an eating disorder, so addressing these issues right away may prevent a fully developed eating disorder.

MYTH: You can look at someone and tell if they have an eating disorder.

FACT: Individuals of any body shape and size can suffer from an eating disorder. There is no distinct body size or shape that can distinguish whether or not someone has an eating disorder.

 

MYTH: Purging is an effective way to lose weight.

FACT: Purging restricts your body from digesting your food properly and will not result in effective weight loss. Purging is a very dangerous behavior that is associated with medical conditions that have an impact on one’s teeth, gastrointestinal system, esophagus, kidneys, skin appearance, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, and eyes.

 

MYTH: An eating disorder is no big deal.

FACT: Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. One suffering from an eating disorder may face medical complications from binge eating, purging, starvation, and over-exercising. Suicide is also very common among individuals suffering from an eating disorder.

 

MYTH: Children aren’t affected by eating disorders.

FACT: Eating disorders affect all age groups, as well as children. Eating disorders can cause significant damage to a child’s body, affecting their physical growth which is an important component of childhood. The rates of eating disorders among young girls and boys under the age of 12 have been growing in the past several years.

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