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SAMHSA Recognizes National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

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Date: February 28, 2024
Category: Treatment

From February 26 through March 3, 2024, we recognize National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, a time to recommit to showing compassion for and empowering our fellow Americans impacted by eating disorders. This also is a time to demonstrate our commitment to the early diagnosis and effective treatment of eating disorders. Eating disorders are a serious public health concern, as an estimated twenty-nine million Americans—or 9 percent of the population—will have an eating disorder during the course of their lifetime.1 Over 10,000 individuals die per year due to an eating disorder, and the economic cost of eating disorders is nearly $65 billion annually.2

Eating disorders include binge eating disorder, anorexia, bulimia, Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), pica, and rumination disorder.

There are a variety of genetic, biological, psychological, and social factors that are associated with the development of an eating disorder. 3, 4, 5

Disparities in Eating Disorders

Individuals of all income levels, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities, and body sizes can be impacted by an eating disorder. The prevalence of eating disorders is similar or even higher among non-white individuals than white individuals.6, 7 Almost 30 percent of those with eating disorders are male, yet males are 4.6 times less likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder than females.8 Eating disorders are more common in sexual and gender minorities than cisgender heterosexual individuals for all eating disorders.9, 10, 11

Eating disorders can develop in individuals of any body size. In fact, only 6 percent of those with eating disorders are underweight.12 It has been well documented that individuals who experience weight stigma—that is, discrimination because of their weight—are more likely to exhibit disordered eating behaviors than those who do not experience such discrimination.13, 14

Treatment for Eating Disorders

Eating disorders require not only psychological support, but also medical, nutritional, and psychiatric care. For pediatric patients, utilizing family-based therapy is considered the gold standard.15

Available Resources

Through SAMHSA’s funding for the National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (NCEED), we are expanding access to new tools and trainings for health care providers, families, caregivers, and community members so they can better identify and support individuals with eating disorders.

If you or a loved one needs support for an eating disorder, visit FindSupport.gov or call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for confidential, free, 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year information and referral services. For anyone experiencing a crisis, immediate and confidential help is also available by calling or texting 988, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.


1Deloitte Access Economics. The Social and Economic Cost of Eating Disorders in the United States of America: A Report for the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders and the Academy for Eating Disorders. June 2020.

2Ibid.

3Rodríguez Martín, A., Novalbos Ruiz, J., Martínez Nieto, J. et al. Epidemiological study of the influence of family and socioeconomic status in disorders of eating behaviour. Eur J Clin Nutr 58, 846–852 (2004).

4Burke, N., Hazzard, V., Schaefer, L., Simone, M., O'Flynn, J., & Rodgers, R. (2022). Socioeconomic status and eating disorder prevalence: At the intersections of gender identity, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicity. Psychological Medicine, 1-11. 

5Cheng, Z. H., Perko, V. L., Fuller-Marashi, L., Gau, J. M., & Stice, E. (2019). Ethnic differences in eating disorder prevalence, risk factors, and predictive effects of risk factors among young women. Eating behaviors, 32, 23–30.

6Edwards, JB., Franko, DL. Cultural Issues in Eating Pathology and Body Image Among Children and Adolescents, Journal of Pediatric Psychology, Volume 35, Issue 3, April 2010, Pages 231–242.

7Franko, D. L., Becker, A. E., Thomas, J. J., & Herzog, D. B. (2007). Cross-ethnic differences in eating disorder symptoms and related distress. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 40(2), 156–164.

8Sonneville, KR, Lipson, SK. Disparities in eating disorder diagnosis and treatment according to weight status, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic background, and sex among college students. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2018; 51: 518– 526

9Calzo, J.P., Blashill, A.J., Brown, T.A. Eating Disorders and Disordered Weight and Shape Control Behaviors in Sexual Minority Populations. Curr Psychiatry Rep 19, 49 (2017).

10Kamody, RC, Grilo, CM, Udo, T. Disparities in DSM-5 defined eating disorders by sexual orientation among U.S. adults. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2020; 53: 278– 287.

11Rasmussen SM, Dalgaard MK, Roloff M, Pinholt M, Skrubbeltrang C, Clausen L, Kjaersdam Telléus G. Eating disorder symptomatology among transgender individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2023 May 26;11(1):84. PMID: 37237320; PMCID: PMC10214585.

12Flament, M., Henderson, K., Buchholz, A., Obeid, N., Nguyen, H., Birmingham, M., Goldfield, G. (2015). Weight Status and DSM-5 Diagnoses of Eating Disorders in Adolescents From the Community. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 54, Issue 5, 403-411.

13Puhl, R., Suh, Y. Health Consequences of Weight Stigma: Implications for Obesity Prevention and Treatment. Curr Obes Rep 4, 182–190 (2015).

14Jess Haines, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Marla E. Eisenberg, Peter J. Hannan; Weight Teasing and Disordered Eating Behaviors in Adolescents: Longitudinal Findings From Project EAT (Eating Among Teens). Pediatrics February 2006; 117 (2): e209–e215.

15Alberga, A. S., Edache, I. Y., Forhan, M., & Russell-Mayhew, S. (2019). Weight bias and health care utilization: a scoping review. Primary health care research & development, 20, e116.

Citations are based on a comprehensive search using PubMed, and where relevant, multiple sources are cited to minimize any potential bias and further support the credibility of the generally understood facts in the literature.