Eating disorders Myths and facts

Without even realising it we probably make assumptions about eating disorders, body image and dieting. 

Eating Disorders Victoria separates the myths from the facts.
 
Myth: Dieting is normal, harmless and an important way to keep weight under control
Fact: Dieting has become so normalised these days that we barely bat an eyelid at someone who weighs themselves daily, cuts out entire food groups, or eagerly joins the latest fad diet. But dieting is one of the greatest risk factors that can lead to someone developing an eating disorder. In fact, recurrent dieting generally leads to weight gain – up to 2 out of 3 people who follow a weight loss diet regain the weight they have lost plus more, within two years.
 
Myth: Eating disorders are illnesses of choice and vanity
Fact: An eating disorder is a serious mental illness, not a lifestyle choice, a diet gone wrong or a cry for attention. Eating disorders can occur when eating, exercise and body weight or shape become an unhealthy preoccupation of someone's life.
 
Myth: Men don’t get eating disorders
Fact: Although eating disorders are more common among young women than men, research shows 1 in 4 people experiencing an eating disorder are male. The rates of men and women with Binge Eating Disorder being nearly equal. Unfortunately, many men go undiagnosed due to stigma, lack of awareness (including from health practitioners) and their own reluctance to seek help.
 
Myth: People with eating disorders are always underweight
Fact: Anorexia is the only eating disorder where one of the warning signs may be extreme thinness. You can’t tell whether someone has an eating disorder or not just by looking at them. People with eating disorders may be underweight, normal weight, or overweight. 
 
Myth: Eating disorders aren’t as common or serious as other health and mental health issues
Fact: Eating disorders are much more common than most people realise. An estimated 9% of all Australians will experience an eating disorder, but only 1 in 6 of them will get treatment. Eating disorders are associated with some of the highest mortality and burden of disease of any psychiatric disorder. They are very serious, but with the right support can usually be treated effectively. 
It can be difficult to tell whether someone has an eating disorder, and so it’s important to be aware of the early warning signs. Many people with an eating disorder do not realise they have a problem, or may go to great lengths to hide their behaviour. 
 
Eating Disorders Victoria has developed a new online tool to help identify potential eating disorders and provide access to help.
 
For more information, contact Eating Disorders Victoria (1300 550 236 or help@eatingdisorders.org.au)
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