Figures from a food disorders survey conducted by SELF, in collaboration with the University of North Carolina.
65% of US women who responded to a national SELF-survey have a disorderly eating pattern. "Although a disorderly diet does not have as harmful or even deadly effects as anorexia or bulimia, it can damage your emotional and physical health," says Cynthia Bulik, the director of the Eating Disorders Program. at the University of North Carolina (USA). And the problem is spreading in the United States.
The survey - which took place on the Internet - received responses from 4,000 women between 25 and 45 years old. These women completed a detailed questionnaire in order to classify their category of food disorientation.
Depending on the choices in the questionnaire, one could fall into one of the following 6 categories:
- prisoners of calories (they are terrified of gaining weight),
- diet followers permanently (they can not conceive a life without a dieting plan to follow),
- Purgeuses (they want to constantly purge their body of calories by consuming laxatives, diuretics, etc.),
- fanatics of foods (they eat to relieve their stress or heal their anger, annoying or even to celebrate a happy event),
- crazy about physical activities (they play sports despite diseases or injuries, only to lose weight, and are devastated if they miss a workout).
Some respondents combine categories, others may switch from one category to another over time.
"Our survey found that these behaviors are common to all ethnic or cultural groups, and are not limited to a single group in the population." Women who identified their ethnicity as Hispanic, Caucasian, African, African American, Asian, etc. were all represented among women who reported unhealthy eating behaviors, "says Cynthia Bulik.
More than disturbing, the survey finds that 10% more women (outside the 65% who have a disorderly diet) suffer from either anorexia or bulimia. Which makes a total of 75% of American women (3 out of 4 women) who eat, think and act "abnormally" when it comes to food.
"What surprised us most was the surprisingly high number of women who engage in purging activities," says Cynthia Bulik, also a nutrition professor. "More than 31% of the women surveyed say that during an attempt to lose weight, they caused vomiting or took laxatives, diuretics or diet pills at some point in their lives. these women, over 50% purge their foods at least a few times a week and many of them do it every day. "
The information from the survey shows that extreme measures do not work. Low calories diets at less than 1,200 calories a day can save weight because the body will burn fewer calories and store more to protect itself from hunger. Read also what to do to eat less without starving yourself.
However, not all disordered eaters are obese or overweight. 53% of these respondents who are on a diet have a normal weight but are trying to change it.
And despite the stereotype that eating disorders affect mostly young women, the survey found that women in their 30s and 40s also report eating disorders at almost the same rates. Read also how to optimize your eating habits.
In essence, the study found that:
- 75% of women surveyed report having problem eating behavior as well as eating disorders (TCA). That means that 3 out of 4 Americans have an unhealthy relationship with food or their body,
- 67% of women (with the exception of those with TCA) are trying to lose weight,
- 53% of diet followers already have a healthy weight, but still, try to lose weight,
- 39% of women say they worry about what they eat or that their body weight can interfere with their happiness,
- 37% of women regularly jump reaps to try to lose weight. What the experts advise against because by doing this, we can suffer emotional symptoms in the hours that follow,
- 27% would be extremely upset if she took just 2 pounds,
- 26% completely eliminate one of the food groups,
- 16% have already followed a low-calorie diet at less than 1,000 calories a day,
- 13% smoke to lose weight,
- 12% often eat when they are not hungry (and 49% sometimes do)
- 4% of respondents think of food for 90% of the awake time.
Dietary habits that women think are normal, such as banishing carbohydrates, skipping meals and in some cases making extreme diets, could actually be symptoms of eating disorders. Read also how to fight a food addiction to lose weight.