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Types of Eating Disorders and Statistics


By Columnist Eleni Psillakis – Eating Disorder Educator:

Photo credit: Snapshot of Eating Disordes in Australia – The National Eating Disorder Collaboration (NEDC) an initiative of the Australia Government Department of Health http://www.nedc.com.au/eating-disorders-in-australia

Flipping through the Sunday paper I came across an article with a headline that reads “28 Ways to Eat Less”. Immediately I thought, this is just one example of the wrong messages that the media is giving. Where, in this instance, the number on the scale has become the focus rather than the many other important aspects of health. In fact, according to Eating Disorders Victoria, dieting is the single highest risk factor to developing an eating disorder.

However, it’s also important to note that the development of an eating disorder is complex. Many people who have an eating disorder typically suffer in silence, with most denying that they have a problem. This is especially true of males who often do not seek help. It is for this reason that the statistics in this article may not reflect the actual number of people with an eating disorder, as there may be considerably more than accounted. Let’s look at some eating disorder statistics now, so you get an indication of just how many Australians may be experiencing these as you read this article.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is characterised by an extreme fear of gaining weight, restricted energy intake and/or excessive exercise and a disturbed body image. Eating Disorders Victoria state that Anorexia is the third most chronic illness with 1-in-100 young women 1-in-100 suffering from the condition and 25% of children diagnosed being male.


Those that suffer from Bulimia also experience an intense fear of gaining weight and distorted body image and may also resort to behaviours such as vomiting, using laxatives and excessive exercise. The incidence of detected Bulimia in Australia, according to Eating Disorders Victoria, is about 5-in-100 people.

Other Eating Disorders

Feeling a loss of control while eating large amounts of food in a short-space of time are characteristics of Binge Eating Disorder state Eating Disorders Australia, with about 4% of the population suffering from this. Other eating disorders include Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) and Disordered Eating and Dieting.

No matter what type of eating disorder someone has, it is important for us to consider that there are not only huge physical and medical complications for those with an eating disorder, but psychological complications as well. The sufferers of all types of eating disorders, state the National Eating Disorder Collaboration, experience a great deal of guilt, shame and low self-esteem and up to 86% also experience depression and 64% experience anxiety. The National Eating Disorder Collaboration also notes that the mortality rate for people with eating disorders is the highest of all psychiatric illness, with 1-in-5 people with Anorexia Nervosa dying prematurely, due to taking their own life.

These statistics reflect that there is a battle that occurs within the mind and that treatment centred solely around body-weight alone may not be enough to deal with the problem. Therefore, psychological help to address the issues that caused the initial behaviour is needed. I believe that in order to bring about long-term change, people with an eating disorder need to focus on both the physical and mental aspects of their illness.

If you know someone who needs help for an eating disorder or you’d like some more information on eating disorders, some great places to reach out to are:


The Butterfly Foundation: http://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au
The Centre for Eating and Dieting Disorders: http://cedd.org.au 
Eating Disorders Victoria: http://www.eatingdisorders.org.au
Shape Your Mind Psychologists: http://shapeyourmind.com.au


The National Eating Disorders Collaboration: http://www.nedc.com.au
EDInfo: http://eatingdisordersinfo.org.au

About Our Eating Disorder News and Review Columnist – Eleni Psillakis


Combining over 27-years experience in the fitness industry, education and a lived experience of eating disorder, Eleni Psillakis is raising awareness of eating disorders as serious mental illnesses. In this time as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, secondary and tertiary educator, she is aware of the fine-line that may be crossed from healthy to unhealthy diet and exercise habits.

Using resistance training to gain weight to her 39kg frame at age 19, Eleni physically recovered and went on to compete in women’s bodybuilding. However the underlying emotional issues and thought patterns resurfaced 25-years later when her marriage broke down and she was diagnosed with clinical depression. Antidepressants and 8-years of psychological counselling, assisted with unlearning of negative thought processes that Eleni had of herself for most of her life. These were nothing to do with body image, but self-worth.

Resistance training again helped the process of stopping her thoughts racing during this time of depression and she stepped back onto the competition stage gaining a top 3 place in her division for each of the 5 competitions since. It was the psychological help that has made the difference this time around.

An Insight to Anorexia and Other Eating Disorders for Fitness Professionals”, a seminar that Eleni has written, has been approved by Fitness Australia for continuing education.

Eleni Logo

Disclaimer: The information published in this column are based on the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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