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Eating disorders are on the rise

Depressed man sitting at a table.
Andrew Neel

A SciLine journalists webinar held last week hosted three panelists who addressed the rising number of eating disorders seen in the U.S. and the treatments that are available.

Cherri Levinson, director of the Eating Anxiety Treatment Lab and Clinic at the University of Louisville, said that every 52 minutes, someone dies from an eating disorder.

This was to stress the health risks that come along with an eating disorder, and she said they should not be taken lightly.

Jason Nagata, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Fransisco, said that almost 30 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. But stigma around eating disorders and the shame that comes along with it keeps some from coming forward and seeking help.

Nagata focused on males, the LGBTQ+ community and ethnic and racial minorities that don’t get the attention they need because they don’t fit the norm of an eating disorder.

“If you only take home two points from this, I think it's important to realize that eating disorders can affect people of all genders, sexual orientations, races and ethnicities," Nagata said.

Levinson said she also felt the media should do a better job at portraying a wider variety of body images to send the message that not all bodies have to look the same.

Jean Doak, deputy director of the National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, also stressed the importance of body image, and the fact that eating disorders do not only have to occur in those who are thin. She said only 23-57% of those that have an eating disorder receive treatment.

Eating disorders can present with a great deal of shame, stigma and guilt and sometimes individuals don't even know that they may be struggling with an eating disorder," Doak said.

Doak also explained that there are many different treatments available.

For more information about treatments for an eating disorder go to