Fad Dieting or Eating Disorder?

Fad dieting has become so entrenched in US culture that it is seen by many as a normal part of daily life. It has become almost chic to be on the latest fad diet. Fad dieting has become so common place that it has actually created its own $61 billion industry. But is Yo-Yo or fad dieting really safe or is it a sign of a more serious issue? When we hear the word eating disorder, we immediately think of anorexia and bulimia. But did you know that perpetual dieting can be considered an eating disorder?

According to Psychology Today, people who diet are eight times as likely to develop an eating disorder as people who don’t diet. Dieting is like a gateway drug that can trap someone in a vicious cycle of eating disorders which can take years to overcome. In fact, studies show that 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders. This suggests that fad dieting is indeed a type of eating disorder.

As the research suggests, fad dieting can progress to other types of eating disorders as well. Approximately 10 million women and one million men in the United States struggle with anorexia and bulimia. There are another 25 million who suffer from binge-eating disorder. There is an epidemic of eating disorders in our country that is causing more serious effects than being overweight may cause. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression. Below are more statistics from ANAD related to fad dieting and eating disorders. Unfortunately fad dieting is starting to negatively affect girls at a younger age as the research shows:

• 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight within 5 years.

• Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness

• Over 50% of teenage girls use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.

• 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade want to lose weight because of magazine pictures.

• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.

• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.

These statistics show that fad dieting is a real problem and only getting worse as girls feel the pressure to be thin at earlier ages. Has our culture digressed so far that nearly half of 1st grade girls worry about being thinner? These statistics show how fad dieting can lead to other eating disorders which may lead to depression and even death. Fad dieting is a serious issue with serious consequences.


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