(NaturalNews) Disordered eating among women in the U.S. may be more widespread than we thought. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of young American women report experiencing disordered eating behaviors, and ten percent report symptoms of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, or binge eating disorder, according to new study findings published in HealthDay News.
These findings resulted from information provided by more than 4,000 women in an online poll conducted by SELF Magazine in conjunction with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). The women ranged in ages from 25 to 45.
The survey found that the behaviors cut across racial and ethnic lines and were not limited to any single group. Hispanic, Latina, white, black, African American, and Asian women were all represented among the women who reported unhealthy eating behaviors.
Researchers were surprised by the unexpected high number of women who engage in the unhealthy purging activities that characterize bulimia. More than 31 percent of the survey respondents reported having induced vomiting or used laxatives, diuretics or diet pills at some point in their lives. 50 percent of these women reported engaging in purging activities at least a few times a week, and many did so on a daily basis.
Eating habits such as skipping meals, avoiding carbohydrates and, in some cases, extreme dieting, were thought by some women to be normal. But the study found that these habits may actually be signs of disordered eating, which is often linked with emotional and physical stress.
Although there seems to be a widespread belief that eating disorders affect mostly young women, the study found that a surprising number of women in their 30s and 40s had about the same rates of disordered eating as younger women.
Among these additional findings:
* 67 percent of the women (excluding those with actual eating disorders) were trying to lose weight.
* 53 percent of dieters are already at a healthy weight and are still trying to lose weight.
* 39 percent of the women said concerns about what they eat or weigh interfere with their happiness.
* 37 percent of the women said they regularly skip meals to try to lose weight.
* 27 percent said they'd be extremely upset if they gained just five pounds.
* 26 percent have eliminated entire food groups from their diets.
* 16 percent have dieted on 1,000 calories a day.
* 13 percent smoke to lose weight.
* 12 percent often eat when they're not hungry, and 49 percent sometimes do.
About the author
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.