March 1, 2024 – Eating disorders have the second-highest mortality rate of any mental illness. And yet, they’re often misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed because of stereotypes and stigmas encountered by patients.

However, recent research shows a rise in pediatric eating disorder hospitalizations between April 2002 and March 2020, with one of the largest relative changes in rates being among males — a population significantly overlooked. The takeaway of the study was that “existing eating disorder programs must adapt to accommodate changing patient presentations.”

It sounds simpler than it is, as diagnosing eating disorders has long relied on the stereotypes that often define them. Today, people still believe that those with eating disorders are white, thin, affluent women and girls. Research shows that that isn’t always the case.