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Prevalence of Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating

Prevalence of eating disorders and disordered eating in Ontario and Canada 2011. View Summary (PDF)

Anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are serious psychiatric conditions recognized by the DSM-IV (APA, 2000). The prevalence of eating disorders in Ontario has been established in a large nonclinical community sample (Garfinkel et al., 1995; 1996). Drawing from a sample of 8,116 individuals under the age of 65 years, the lifetime prevalence of bulimia nervosa was found to be 1.1% for female subjects and 0.1% for male subjects (Garfinkel et al., 1995). The lifetime prevalence of anorexia nervosa was found to be 0.56% for females (Garfinkel et al., 1996) and 0.16 for males (Woodside, et al., 2001).

Garfinkel P.G., Lin, E., Goering, P., Spegg, C., Goldbloom, D., Kennedy, S., Kaplan, A., Woodside, B. (1996). Should Amenorrhea be Necessary for a Diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa.: Evidence From A Canadian Community Sample. British Journal of Psychiatry. 168, 500-506.

Garfinkel, P. E., Lin, E., Goering, P., Spegg, C., Goldbloom, D.S., Kennedy, S., et al. (1995). Bulimia nervosa in a Canadian community sample: prevalence and comparison of subgroups. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152, 1052-58. View Article (PDF)

Woodside, D.B., Garfinkel, P.E., Lin, E., Goering, P., Kaplan, A.S., Goldbloom, D.S., & Kennedy, S.H. (2001). Comparisons of men with full or partial eating disorders, men without eating disorders, and women with eating disorders in the community. American Journal of Psychiatry, 4, 570-574. View Article (PDF)

In addition to the full syndrome eating disorders, one in four adolescent females in Ontario (13-18 years) report engaging in at least one symptom of an eating disorder (Jones, Bennett, Olmsted, Lawson, & Rodin, 2001); and a significant amount of both male (25%) and female (30%) children, as young as 10-14 years, are dieting to lose weight, despite being within a healthy weight range (McVey, Pepler, Davis, Flett, & Abdolell, 2002; McVey, Tweed, & Blackmore, 2004; McVey, Tweed, & Blackmore, 2005).

Jones, J. M., Bennett, S., Olmsted, M. P., Lawson, M. L., & Rodin, G. (2001). Disordered eating attitudes and behaviours in teenaged girls: A school-based study. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 165, 547-552.View Article (PDF)

McVey, G.L., Pepler, D., Davis, R.,Flett, G., & Abdolell, M. (2002). Risk and protective factors associated with disordered eating during early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 22, 76-96. View Article (PDF)

McVey, G.L., Tweed. S., & Blackmore, E. (2004) Dieting among preadolescent and young adolescent females. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 170, 1559-1562. View Article (PDF)

McVey, G.L., Tweed, S., & Blackmore, E. (2005). Correlates of dieting and muscle gaining behaviors in 10-14 year-old males and females. Preventive Medicine., 40, 1-9. View Article (PDF)

Bridging Eating Disorder & Obesity Prevention Fields

Guidelines for Prevention

Guidelines for Treatment

National Prevention Strategy Initiative

Policy Documents & Resources

Prevalence of Eating Disorders & Disordered Eating

Prevention Research

Treatment Research


The Ontario Ministry of Health (MOH) in partnership with:

  • The University Health Network (Toronto General Division)
  • The Hospital for Sick Children
  • Provincial network of specialized eating disorder service providers

Contact Us

Ontario Community Outreach
Program for Eating Disorders

University Health Network
Toronto General Hospital
200 Elizabeth Street
Toronto, ON, M5G 2C4