The National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S. consider eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating as a sub-category of mental disorder. The main reason for this is that eating disorders are mainly psychological since those who experience the aforementioned disorders began with a wrong perception of body image. In fact, anorexia nervosa has a high prevalence rate as an eating disorder. When we say prevalence, it means the total number of cases in the population.
Prevalence could also mean scope or extent of a disease in a give n population over a set period. Annually, health departments in every country often report the prevalence rate of diseases on annual basis. The prevalence rate is important for medical professionals since they can analyze if a certain disease has been contained or it has progressed into alarming proportions. Even health insurers also need statistical information about diseases.
The following are the statistical reports on anorexia ( as reported by NIMH):
In the U.S., 6 percent of the adult population has a high probability of suffering from anorexia which is relatively three times higher than the rate for other eating disorders such as bulimia and binge eating.
Women have twice the number of chance in developing an eating disorder. This maybe brought about by wrong perception of body image and low self-esteem. The media bombards the television and print ads with svelte bodies of models which most women think as the benchmark of a healthy body. Prevalence of anorexia among adolescent girls is 1% as of 2009.
Anorexia nervosa can also result to complications such as low potassium and sodium leading to dehydration, irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest. Women with anorexia become anemic and low-blood which is dangerous. Estimate for mortality rate for anorexia is 0.56 percent a year. This translates to an alarming figure since its sums up to 5.6 percent per decade.
On a worldwide basis, anorexia is also increasing since it in one of the leading causes of protein malnutrition according to a report by World Health Organization. The sad fact about anorexia is that malnutrition is not caused by poverty but by deliberate choice to starve one’s self. This resulted to no less than 70 million people worldwide affected by anorexia nervosa. While it is completely understandable that malnutrition is prevalent in poor countries, it is ironic that developed countries have malnutrition that is rooted on unhealthy self-image.