Women in the Army with Eating Disorders

Women in the Army with Eating DisordersWomen in the Army are at higher-risk for developing an eating disorder than civilian women and men. Evidence that supports this notion was found in a 1 year study on active-duty women in the Army. The study found that 33 percent of active-duty females in the Army met the criteria for abnormal eating behaviors. The variation of eating disorders among these women ranged from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, situational eating disorder, and excessive exercise.

Eating Disorder Risk-Factors for Women in the Army

While there are numerous combinations of environmental, genetic, biological, and traditional risk-factors that influence the development of eating disorders, women in the Army face additional circumstances that increase their susceptibility to eating disorders. The Army holds regular weigh-ins and physical fitness assessments and women feel an immense amount of pressure to meet, even to surpass, the requirements held. Exercise and physical activity is a normal part of the military lifestyle, but the standards held in the Army far exceed the physical fitness standards of civilians. The Army ranks their personnel largely on performance, and a great deal of that performance relies on physical performance. Just like any other occupation, women in the Army want to succeed, meet accolades, and achieve promotional growth. Having to compete with traditional ways of thinking, where strength and service in the military is provided by men, women experience additional pressures to excel in order to be considered as equals.

Women in the Army also face the same societal pressures as civilian women to look thin. Because women in the Army are judged by their physical qualities so often, they can grow to evaluate their self-esteem and self-worth on their physical qualities as well. In addition, women in the Army are exposed to combat experience, long and multiple deployments, and physical and emotional trauma. The hardships of Army life can be difficult to cope with and impossible to control. Women may develop eating disorders as a way to cope with trauma and stress, to distract themselves, or as a way to experience some feeling of control in an environment where they may feel powerless.

For women in the Army, recognizing an eating disorder or abnormal eating behavior, is difficult because maintaining peak physical fitness is a natural part of life.  Eating disorders are obviously hazardous to one’s physical health, but eating disorders are just as detrimental to one’s psychological health and wellbeing. Getting help sooner, rather than later, can prevent a great deal of dangerous consequences.

Eating Disorder Treatment and Recovery Help for Women

If you are a woman struggling with an eating disorder, you can find and achieve recovery, and we can help get you there. Our recovery professionals are available 24 hours a day to talk with you about your personal battle and to help you find the treatment and recovery options that will work for you. It is normal to have questions, concerns, and hesitations about getting treatment for an eating disorder, but our knowledge and experience can be used to answer your questions, address your concerns, and talk through your hesitations. If you’re ready, our recovery professionals can help find and connect you to the treatment and recovery services that will work for you and your own unique needs. To learn more about eating disorder treatment options for women, call our toll-free number and speak with a recovery professional today.