Eating Disorders | Webster University

Eating Disorders and Their Precursors

The Prevalence of Eating Disorders

In the United States, conservative estimates indicate that after puberty 5-10% of girls and women and 1 million boys and men are struggling with eating disorders, including: anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or borderline conditions. Because of the secretiveness and shame associated with eating disorders, many cases are probably not reported.

In addition many individuals struggle with body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. For example 80% of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance.

The drive for thinness

  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner
  • 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat
  • The average American woman is 5'4" and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5'11" and weighs 117 pounds
  • Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women


  • 51% of 9 and 10 year old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet
  • 46% of 9-11 year olds are "sometimes" or "very often" on diets and 82% of their families are "sometimes" or "very often" on diets
  • 91% of women recently surveyed on a college campus have attempted to control their weight through dieting 22% dieted "often" or "always"
  • 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years
  • 35% of "normal dieters" progress to pathological dieting, Of those, 25-22% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders
  • 25% of American men and 45% of American women are on a diet on any given day
  • Americans spend over $40 billion on dieting and diet-related products each year