More than 30 million Americans are currently struggling with an eating disorder, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Caroline Adams Miller, who has written several books about her struggles with bulimia, spoke to Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing editor at FoxNewsHealth.com, about the prevalence of eating disorders across the country - and some shocking new trends.
Eating disorders, which affect approximately 20 million women and 10 million men in the U.S., have become more common among older women in recent years, according to Miller.
“It’s always been a lot of adolescent women, but now 25 percent of college-aged women are thought to have eating disorders,” Miller said. “The really new startling statistic is that women my age, middle-aged women, are clogging eating disorder centers now, seeking help in unprecedented numbers.”
Furthermore, Miller, author of "My Name is Caroline" and "Positively Caroline," said the number of men suffering from eating disorders has also increased.
“Boys are really suffering in greater numbers,” Miller said, noting that social media may be partially responsible.
"I think it clearly contributes," Miller said. "One of the most interesting things that’s happened in terms of male images of body perfection that has changed is now the ideal is more masculine and it’s a very unhealthy masculine...I liken it to what women have had to live up to forever, which is this crazy Barbie doll ideal."
Miller advocates positive psychology, as a way to help treat eating disorders, and said that it helped her overcome her struggle with bulimia.
"If we begin to help people focus on their strengths, focus on emotional flourishing as opposed to dealing with weakness and identifying it, if we help them set the right kinds of goals – intrinsic goals as opposed to extrinsic goals, which so many of us suffered with, I think you’ll begin to see that the science of happiness has a very valid place at the table for helping to treat eating disorders," Miller said. "And I’d love to see the field begin to look harder at that area."