08.09.2023 - Eating Disorders

AN OVERVIEW OF EATING DISORDERS - Written by Dr. med. Christina de Almeida dos Santos, Psychiatrist


Eating disorders know no boundaries and affect all cultures, sexual orientations, ages, socioeconomic classes, abilities, races, ethnic backgrounds and sizes.

Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder, among others, constitute a group of conditions with the potential to cause serious health problems. It is estimated that over 70 million people worldwide are affected by an eating disorder. Added to this is the fact that eating disorders are the most lethal psychiatric illnesses. In the US, at least 10.200 people die due to such conditions. In addition, 1 out of 5 patients exhibit suicidal behaviour.

Eating disorders significantly impact the world economy, costing about 64.7 billion dollars annually. Individuals affected by such conditions additionally have annual health costs 48% higher than average, 48% lower average annual incomes, impaired fertility, greater vulnerability to high-risk pregnancies, and a relevant decrease in quality of life. Early recognition, diagnosis and intervention are the best strategies to prevent clinical complications, enabling a shorter recovery and better prognosis.

Highlights on Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are mental and physical illnesses characterised by unhealthy relationships with food and severe disturbances in eating behaviour.

Three of the most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, involving the severe restriction of food; binge eating disorder, characterised by eating unusually large amounts of food and losing control over eating behaviour; and bulimia nervosa, distinguished by binge eating followed by compensatory behaviours such as self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives, diuretics, and excessive physical exercise.

While eating disorders can affect anyone, there are a variety of biological, physiological, and sociocultural risk factors, including but not limited to body image dissatisfaction, weight stigma, personal trauma, and family history of mental illness.


An estimated 30 million people in the US struggle with an eating disorder (20 million women and 10 million men).

It is common for people with an eating disorder to have one or more comorbidities. One study elucidated that 71% of people with an eating disorder were also diagnosed with an anxiety or mood disorder. About 50% of patients with an ED abuse alcohol or psychoactive substances, and 35% of patients with alcohol and drug dependence have some ED.

Eating disorders, in particular, are associated with complications that can contribute to lethal outcomes. Especially Anorexia Nervosa, which is considered to be the psychiatric disease with the highest mortality (18% in long-term studies). Every 52 minutes, at least one person dies in the US due to an eating disorder.

Nearly 3% of teenagers (ages 13-18) are diagnosed with an eating disorder. Although teenage girls are generally at greater risk of developing an eating disorder than boys, 1 in 5 teens with bulimia nervosa and 1 in 4 teens with anorexia nervosa are male.

Research shows that global rates of eating disorders increased from 2000 to 2018. One study showed that rates were increasing faster in male, low-income, and older populations.

In a study of 14- and 15-year-olds, diet was the most important predictor of developing an eating disorder. Those who dieted moderately were five times more likely to develop an eating disorder, and those who practised extreme restrictions were 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who did not diet.

Although eating disorders can be successfully treated, only 1 in 10 people with an eating disorder receive suitable diagnoses and treatment. Additionally, about 44% of eating disorder patients don't know where to seek help, often feeling like there's no light at the end of the tunnel.

Eating disorder treatments at The Kusnacht Practice

At The Kusnacht Practice, we are highly skilled in the treatment of a multitude of eating disorders. We have helped transform the lives of many clients in the past and have a striking track record in this area.

With health and care excellence, our team of professionals use a variety of strategies with a fully personalised programme as unique as an individual's fingerprint, including Psychotherapy, Neuromodulation Therapies, Relapse Prevention, Clinical Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness, Limbic Chair and Biomolecular Restoration and Rejuvenation (BIO-R®) Therapies, and diverse Medical and Psychiatric approaches.

Whether we are dealing with Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, or other presentations of Disordered Eating (i.e. Orthorexia, Drunkorexia, Emotional Eating, Grazing or Mindless Eating), our team of professionals will find a solution and help reinstate a healthy relationship with food, improve body image satisfaction, and improve emotional regulation skills.

In order to learn more about eating disorder treatments at The Kusnacht Practice, contact our specialists.

Written by Dr. med. Christina de Almeida dos Santos
Psychiatrist, Member of the Academy for Eating Disorders
Partner Psychiatrist for Eating Disorders at The Kusnacht Practice - Switzerland