Who Is Affected
An eating disorder can happen to anyone – regardless of gender, age or background. Estimates indicate that over a million Canadians meet the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder.They affect individuals as young as 5 years old, to seniors. Most eating disorders develop in adolescence, with individuals between the ages of 20 – 29 having the greatest risk of mortality. Boys are men are also affected – an estimated 20% of those suffering from Anorexia or Bulimia are male.
Approximately 2.9 million (1 in 13) Canadians have an eating disorder. If not treated, the impact can be lifelong chronic illness and even death. While eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, yet government funded treatment in Canada is scarce and, in some regions of the country, non-existent.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an already strained healthcare system to reach the breaking point. The Hospital for Sick Children is reporting a wait time for an assessment of 10 months and an increase in referrals of 55% since the start of the pandemic. Body Brave, a Hamilton-based charity that provides eating disorder treatment and support has reported an increase in requests for help of 169% from March 2019 to March 2021. BANA, a Windsor-based registered non-profit that provides outpatient treatment, education and support services for individuals affected by eating disorders has reported an increase in calls of 86% in February 2021 compared with February 2020. At the same time, hospitals have had to reduce or close eating disorder programs due to other COVID-related priorities and social distancing requirements.