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The 1 in 20 Project

Posted Jun 14 2012 11:18pm
Eating disorders, we are told, are either freakishly rare (how many of us have seen a physician that said, "I've never dealt with one of you before") or exceedingly common (take, for example, the blog "Every Woman Has an Eating Disorder"). The fact is, they are neither. They are more common that you might think, but that doesn't mean that the majority of the female population can be diagnosed with an eating disorder.

I have a Master's in Public Health, which means (among other things) that I am a data wonk. I love numbers, statistics, tangible information. The autism community has made great success of this with their 1 in 110 and 1 in 88 campaigns. Check out this ad that aired earlier this year in the US

The thing is, eating disorders have no real data and certainly no public awareness campaign to match this. So I thought I would look into it a little more. Using data averaged from this 2007 study (it was the largest sample size and broke down the data the best), I calculated that roughly 5 percent of the US population will meet the criteria for an eating disorder during their lifetime.

Think about it this way: that's 1 in 20 people. The autism community has 1 in 88 and everyone is up in arms and worried. This isn't a competition--suffering isn't increased or decreased by the among of people suffering--but it is something to make you sit up and take notice.

Let me break it down to you differently.

Each year, roughly 4 million babies are born in America.
Approximately 200,000 of these babies will develop an eating disorder.
Every year has 525,600 minutes.
That means that every 2.6 minutes, a child will be diagnosed with an eating disorder.
Every two minutes, a parent will be told "Your child has an eating disorder."

That's what 1 in 20 means. Think about it.

It's why I've decided to start the 1 in 20 Project, to raise awareness of the prevalence and devastating effects of eating disorders, as well as raising awareness about the latest research and the importance of early intervention.

I would love it if you would share the little graphic I created below, with a link back to this page, that would be great. (I'm working on figuring out how to do one of those grab 'n share graphics that you can easily embed in your website or blog--if anyone can help, please email!). As well, if you have any ideas, please email them to me.


{{One of my readers notified me that I had done the math wrong on my initial calculation. I corrected the numbers above.}}
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