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Facts &

​There is a massive gap in our understanding about the extent of how far, wide and deep eating disorders have spread in India. With access to only limited and sporadic research, here’s what we can say with some degree of certainty:

Eating disorders have one of the highest death rates when compared with other psychiatric disorders, coming second only to opioid overdose.[1]

At least 50% of patients with an Eating Disorder are known to have a psychiatric comorbidity, with depression being the most common.[2]

A significant proportion of adolescents have body image concerns. In India, the proportion of adolescents with body image concerns is seen to be 54% [3], 81% [4], 27% [5] and 33% [6] in different regions.

Research on treatments for eating disorders, as well as most mental health problems in general, indicates that early identification and treatment accelerate speeds of recovery, reduction of symptoms to a larger extent and improves the possibility of staying free of the eating disorder.[7]

The onset of Eating disorders is seen to frequently happen at a younger age. A study of 3274 Adolescents who visited a Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit, in Vellore, reported a prevalence of 1.25% for Eating Disorders.[8]

While the occurrence of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia is typically seen more in younger girls, Eating disorders and body image concerns can affect a person of any age, gender and socio-economic status. A study of 550 pre university students (47.8 % males and 70.36% living in rural areas) in Udupi Taluk, Karnataka revealed that 31.09% participants had a tendency to develop an eating disorder.[9]

In India, two studies reported the prevalence of eating distress syndrome (EDS)10 to be 11% and 14.8%.[11,12]

In India, while there are no large-scale community-based studies determining the prevalence of eating disorders in the total population, the general estimated prevalence of any Eating Disorder is 1.01%, and those of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder are 0.21%, 0.81%, and 2.22% of the total population, respectively.[13]

Eating disorders being mental illnesses can affect persons irrespective of body shapes and sizes. Less than 6 % of those who have eating disorders are medically diagnosed as “underweight.” [14]

College students who are transgender report experiencing disordered eating approximately four times more than their classmates who are cisgendered. [15]

Men who are gay are 7 times more likely to report binge-eating and twelve times more likely to report purging than men who are heterosexual.[16]

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