Women in the Marines with Anorexia

Women in the Marines with AnorexiaEating disorders exist with greater frequency in the military than in the civilian population. Both male and female military personnel are at higher risk than their civilian counterparts for developing an eating disorder. Of all eating disorders in military personnel, anorexia nervosa is the least common, but still occurs with greater frequency among military women than civilian women.

The high incidence of eating disorders in the military is most likely due to the high stress and demanding nature of the profession. Soldiers are expected to maintain an incredible standard of physical conditioning at all times, all the while engaging in demanding situations that can cause considerable stress. Additionally, the diet of military personnel tends to be high in fat that makes it difficult to maintain ideal body weight despite regular exercise.

Eating Disorder Studies Conducted on Female Service Personnel

A recent study conducted by Dr. Tamara D. Lauder et al found that rates of eating disorders of all types are more common among women in the Army than in the civilian population. Of 423 Army women on active duty who participated in the study, 33% met the criteria for a high risk for developing abnormal eating patterns as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders. Of 108 women interviewed, 33 were diagnosed with an eating disorder; 3% of those suffered from anorexia nervosa, 9% from bulimia nervosa, 15% from binge eating disorder, 33% from an eating disorder not otherwise specified (ED-NOS) and 39% from a situational eating disorder.

In a study entitled “A Comparative Analysis of the Prevalence and Contributing Factors of Eating Disordered Behaviors Among Active Duty Army, Navy and Air force Service Women in the Health Care Arena,” Navy Capt. Peggy McNulty found similar results, and concluded that eating disorders exist at high rates in all branches of the military and among all ranks and service occupations.

Eating Disorders in Women Marines

Although the studies mentioned above dealt specifically with women in the Army, Navy and Air Force, it can be assumed that similar rates of eating disorders exist among women in the Marine Corps (CAN IT?). In fact, due to the nature of the Marine Corps as an elite fighting force with a lifestyle that is exceptionally demanding, it is conceivable that rates of eating disorders among women marines are even higher than those in other branches of the service.

Treatment for Eating Disorders

Anorexia and other eating disorders are extremely dangerous and can lead to serious health consequences, including malnutrition and even death. The good news is that eating disorders can be treated, so if you are a military woman and you suffer from anorexia, you can deal with this devastating condition. If you would like help finding treatment, or if you have any questions about eating disorders and treatment, call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline today.