Eating Disorders: An Invisible Illness


Isabella Terzoli, Senior Writer

There have been multiple scientific studies for cancer. Many are aware of the disease, people know of it and know what its impacts, while the other important health issues such eating disorders get lost on the internet in websites that have no scientific backing. Why do scientists keep researching cancer, if they still can’t come up with a solution for eating disorders when they impact so many of us?

30 million people of all ages and any gender are impacted by an eating disorder in the United States. At any point in time around 0.3 or 0.4 percent of women will suffer from an eating disorder and 0.1 percent of men will, according to NEDA Feeding Hope.

Eating disorders can start from ages as young as 8 years old and the person may relapse at any time or age. While 8.2 million people have died from cancer worldwide, every 62 minutes one person will die as a result of an eating disorder, that’s 20% of people with an eating disorder. Cancer impacts people of any age, as do eating disorders.

At the age of six (girls especially) start to have concerns about their weight, shape, and appearance. “40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.” says NEDA Feeding Hope.

When “diagnosed” with an eating disorder, the person will not receive treatment (that has been provided by an insurance company-according to Alicia a worker for Blue Shield) unless the person has tried to kill themselves or needs hospitalization. Doctors want to put people who have an eating disorder on pills, without researching if these pills will actually solve the problem. No medications have been approved to treat anorexia (an eating disorder) because none have been proven to work vastly well. Although these medications may help treat the depression or anxiety that a person may have. As soon as someone is diagnosed with cancer they are given treatment immediately, this treatment can consist of surgery, medication, different types of therapy, and others.


According to the American Association for Cancer, “The research cycle flows from observations with medical relevance to the patient’s bedside and back to the lab. Progress in cancer research depends on the participation of basic and population scientists….” This shows that there are multiple scientists to do studies for cancer, but they can’t volunteer one for eating disorder studies (or other health studies).

According to Eating Disorder Hope, “The Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories Report, published February 5, 2015 reflects that 30 million dollars were spent in 2014 on eating disorder research. Sounds sizeable, but not so much when you consider that 241 million was spent on asthma in 2014, 188 million was spent on autism in 2014, and 251 million was spent on hepatitis in 2015. Why is the most deadly of all mental illnesses receiving so little funding?” This shows people aren’t as concerned with eating disorders as they are with the other health issues.

The main question that was posed in this article is: why there haven’t been more studies on health problems other than Cancer? As soon as someone knows the person may be dying of Cancer, they will put all of their money into fixing it. As soon as someone finds out a friend or family member has an eating disorder they will not try and fix the problem thinking that it will go away on its own. There is no true answer to this question, considering scientists will try to throw the very few studies at you and claim there are plenty already. All that has been left to do is wonder and research different reasons on Google, until our questions have been answered, and not always is it the right answer.