Myths About Eating Disorders

Girl with an apple in her mouth, in a sports bra

You may think that if your friend has an eating disorder, you'd definitely know it. However, eating disorders and body image issues are not necessarily always clear. We caught up with Lynn Grefe, President and CEO of National Eating Disorder Association about what myths are out there and what the real truth is behind them.

  • Crash diets work, you just have to find the right one. Healthy eating, not a crash diet, is the best way to take care of your body. "No child should go on a diet without medical supervision," says Lynn Grefe. "95% of people that go on a [crash] diet to lose weight regain it within five years."
  • Eating disorders are "white people" problems. All types of people suffer from eating disorders, regardless of gender, race, or socio-economic status.
  • Men don't have eating disorders. Though fewer men than women battle eating disorders, it is still an issue. As many as 1 million, or 10% of Americans with eating disorders are male.
  • A person chooses to have an eating disorder. According to Grefe, many young people think that the eating disorder is their fault. "It's not your fault," she assures. "You didn't do anything wrong."
  • Try hard enough and you can look like the girls/guys you see in magazines. Everyone's body type is different. "It's your health that you should worry about, not your size. If the doctor says that you're healthy, that's the size that you should be," says Grefe.
  • The media causes eating disorders. The media and others may help trigger eating disorders, but it is a real disease.
  • People don't die from eating disorders. Hundreds of people die from eating disorders every year. In fact, anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.