Medical News today: 1 in 10 people have been diagnosed with an eating disorder, but most are unaware of it
1 in 3 adults in the US have been hospitalized for an eating-disorder, according to a new study.
The finding comes amid rising awareness of the disorder, with the number of Americans suffering from anorexia nervosa growing by over 1 in 4 over the past decade.
The new report by the National Eating Disorder Association found that of those hospitalized with anorexic symptoms, 1 in 5 are unaware that they have the condition, and that only 13 percent are seeking help.
The study’s lead author, University of Michigan epidemiologist Elizabeth L. Smith, said that awareness of eating disorders in the general population is limited.
“It’s not something that everyone is aware of,” she said.
“I think it’s important that people learn about this.”
The study’s authors found that more than a third of the participants who were hospitalized with eating disorders did not seek help from a healthcare provider, even though a majority had been diagnosed and treated for anorexes in the past.
“This was not surprising, but it’s not surprising that this group of people is at a greater risk for an illness,” Smith said.
While a majority of adults diagnosed with a disorder will eventually seek help, only a quarter of those in the study had sought medical care.
The study authors also found that, of those who seek help in an eating or weight-loss program, only 14 percent are able to maintain that level of care.
A third of those people were able to do so for more than two weeks.
Liz Brown, the director of communications and public affairs for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, said the lack of access to care and the severity of the illness have contributed to the increase in people struggling with an anorectal condition.
“People who are obese are more likely to be treated for other health problems, and it’s a higher risk for death,” she told Medical News Daily.
“We’re seeing an increase in the use of weight-control strategies by those with an obesity diagnosis, and a significant increase in obesity-related deaths.”
The prevalence of anorecic symptoms in the U.S. is higher than the rate of other health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, according the National Institutes of Health.
In general, Americans have a higher incidence of an eating problem than people in other developed countries, and the prevalence is higher in people with a history of an illness such as heart disease, depression, or stroke.
However, Smith said the study did not provide a cause for the higher prevalence.
“It could be because we’re less educated about the condition,” she explained.
“If we were to have more people come to us with an issue and they were diagnosed, we would be able to educate them more.”
In a recent study, Smith and her colleagues found that about one-quarter of Americans who were diagnosed with one or more eating disorders had a history or symptoms of anxiety.