Eating disorder myths

Myths about eating disorders - May 2010

There are many perceptions about eating disorders that are inaccurate. This misinformation can lead to the problem being overlooked or negative perceptions of those who struggle with eating problems.

  • Myth 1: You have to be underweight to have an eating disorder. People with eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Many individuals with eating disorders are of average weight or are overweight.
  • Myth 2: Only teenage girls and young women are affected by eating disorders. While eating disorders often first start in the teen years, individuals of any age can have an eating disorder. Men are also prone to eating disorders, although in far fewer numbers than women.
  • Myth 3: People with eating disorders are vain. It’s not vanity that drives people with eating disorders to follow extreme diets and obsess over their bodies, but rather an attempt to deal with feelings of shame, anxiety, and powerlessness.
  • Myth 4: Eating disorders aren't dangerous.All eating disorders can lead to irreversible and even life-threatening health problems, such as heart disease, bone loss, stunted growth, infertility and organ failure.