Eating Disorders in Canada
Approximately, 1 million1 Canadians have a diagnosis of an Eating Disorder, such as Anorexia Nervosa (AN), Bulimia Nervosa (BN), Binge Eating Disorder (BED), Avoidance Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)2 and Otherwise Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED)3.
Eating Disorders are serious but treatable mental illnesses that can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, racial and ethnic identity, sexual orientation or socio-economic background4. Too many people with an Eating Disorder are never diagnosed but suffer significant personal and family distress. The social and economic costs of untreated Eating Disorders are similar to those of depression and anxiety, with debilitating physical and mental health effects comparable to psychosis and schizophrenia5.
While it is well documented that mental illnesses are a leading cause of premature death in Canada6, it is less known that Eating Disorders have the highest overall mortality rate of any mental illness, with estimates between 10-15%7. Suicide is the second leading cause of death (after cardiac disease) among those with AN8; 20% of people with AN and 25-35% of people with BN may attempt suicide in their lifetime9. For females aged 15-24 years old, the mortality rate associated with AN is 12 times greater than that ALL other causes of death combined.10
Younger Canadians are also increasingly11 engaging in dieting behaviour which may put them at risk of developing an Eating Disorder and other health-compromising conditions12. In Canada, between 12% and 30% of girls and 9% and 25% of boys aged 10-14 report dieting to lose weight13. Moreover, the incidence of Eating Disorders in Canadian children is estimated to be 2 to 4 times greater than Type 2 Diabetes.14