Who is Affected?

Eating disorders can occur in people of all ages and genders, across all socioeconomic groups, and from any cultural background.


Although eating disorders can develop at any age, the peak risk period for the onset of an eating disorder is adolescence.  

  • Eating disorders represent the third most common chronic illness for young females

  • Eating disorders represent the second leading cause of mental disorder disability for young females

  • Adolescents with diabetes may have a 2.4-fold higher risk of developing an eating disorder

  • Adolescent girls who diet at a severe level are 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder within 6 months. This risk increases to a 1 in 5 chance over 12 months

Studies of body dissatisfaction in adolescence have found varying but consistently high levels:

  • 70% of adolescent girls have body dissatisfaction

  • Body dissatisfaction is identified in the Mission Australia Youth Survey (2013) as one of the top ranked issue of concern for young people


Approximately 15% of Australian women experience an eating disorder during their lifetime.

While eating disorders are often portrayed as illnesses that only affect females, large population studies suggest that up to a quarter of people suffering with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa are male, and almost an equal number of males and females suffer with binge eating disorder. We also know that under-diagnosis and cultural stigma mean that the actual proportion of males with eating disorders could be much higher.


See also

What is an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses; they are not a lifestyle choice or a diet gone ‘too far’. The factsEating disorders are estimated to affect approximately 9% of the Australian population and the rate is increasing. Approximately 15% of Australian women experience an eating disorder during their lifetime.


Eating Disorders in Australia

Prevalence Eating disorders and disordered eating together are estimated to affect over 16% of the Australian population.


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