Statistics from ANAD: What are the Most Common Eating Disorders?

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) has collected some important stats on eating disorders in the U.S. Learn more here.

We all worry about our weight or how we look from time to time. Usually, at the beginning of the year or when summer is around the corner, we decide to try a diet or start exercising.

For some people, what they eat and even how much they exercise is a compulsion they can’t control. Their relationship with food veers into unhealthy territory.

When that happens, that person has an eating disorder, a type of mental illness. Around 24 million people nationwide suffer from this condition.

What does an eating disorder look like? ANAD has several statistics that show which ones are most common and what the symptoms are.

Let’s look at several definitions to better understand this health issue.

Anorexia Nervosa

Probably the most common eating disorder on the list, anorexia deals with body image and food intake.

Those who suffer from anorexia believe they are fatter than they are and that being fat is a bad thing. They then seek to restrict how much they eat, sometimes going without food for long stretches at a time.

One of the scariest anorexia statistics is this disease is deadly and affects women more than men.

Bulimia Nervosa

Those who are bulimic will eat but later find a way to purge their food. One of the most common ways is through vomiting, but they might take laxatives or intense exercise.

The common bulimic cycle involves binging, eating more food than usual in one sitting, and then purging.


“My friend eats only healthy meals. They can’t possibly suffer from an eating disorder!” Or so you might think. Orthorexia is one of the sneakiest eating disorders because it looks like someone is being health-conscious.

Orthorexics are preoccupied with what goes into their body. They become extremely picky about what they eat and obsessed with their food.
Orthorexia goes beyond being picky or wanting to be healthy and becomes a compulsion. Usually, this behavior is a gateway to one of the more severe eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.

Binge Eating Disorder

Often, eating disorders have a stereotype of restricting or purging food. it’s easy to think it only makes those who suffer from them very thin.

That’s not the case with binge eating disorder, or BED. BED is characterized by compulsive overeating, much like bulimia, but without the purging.

The acronym EDNOS stands for “eating disorders not otherwise specified”. There’s a spectrum of disordered eating that goes beyond easily defined conditions like anorexia or bulimia.

Essentially, if you or a loved one has a compulsory behavior regarding food, it could be fall within EDNOS. Always seek treatment and get support if you or a loved one starts showing patterns of disordered thoughts or behaviors around food.

Beyond ANAD

Hopefully, these definitions help you understand ANAD and their mission. Eating disorder statistics and facts can help open your eyes to things you might not have considered disorders before.

Recognizing these facts is the first step toward getting treatment and being healthy. Stay on top of these and other relevant health and beauty topics with our women’s health blog.