Last week, Eating Recovery Center was featured in a Denver Post article on how the city of Denver has become a hub for treating eating disorders among both genders. Read an excerpt of the article below, or to view it in its entirety, click here.
Although men and boys make up an increasing percentage of the estimated 10 million Americans who struggle with eating disorders, few residential treatment centers will help them. The four largest eating disorder clinics in Denver — ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders, Children's Hospital Colorado, Eating Disorder Center of Denver and Eating Recovery Center — are on a very short list of U.S. programs that accept both genders for treatment of anorexia and bulimia. Today, males make up more than 10 percent of patients with eating disorders, according to the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders. "The cultural pressure around the drive for thinness has over the years expanded beyond the target audience of women and teenagers," said Dr. Jennifer Hagman, director of Children's Hospital Colorado's eating disorder program. "It's really not leaving anyone out anymore." Early detection a key The Denver centers have seen patients as young as 7 and as old as 65 in various stages of bulimia and anorexia. Catching the disorders sooner, within three to six months of onset, improves the odds of recovery, Hagman said. "For people who move on to have a more persistent and chronic illness, two years or more of length, the news is not so good," she said. "You start to see higher mortality rates with suicide being first and heart attacks being second." A study published in Archives of General Psychiatry in 2011 reported that individuals with anorexia nervosa die more frequently than people with any other mental illness. The other eating disorders weren't far behind. Of the 110 patients the Eating Disorder Center saw last year, 80 percent were from Colorado. Children's Hospital saw a similar trend with 60 percent from the state. ACUTE and Eating Recovery Center have more patients travel to Colorado for treatment. Seventy-five percent of patients treated by Eating Recovery Center came from other states in 2012. About 90 percent of ACUTE patients are from other states. Tamara Pryor, director of Eating Disorder Center, said Colorado's unique eating culture — with so many residents having special diets like gluten-free or vegan — contributes to the high number of local patients. "If not eating disorders, a lot of disordered eating happens," she said. In fact, some of the most dire cases in the country travel to ACUTE at Denver Health for treatment. These are people with dangerously low body mass index numbers. For example, a 5-foot-10 male's normal weight ranges from 129 to 173½ pounds with a BMI ranging from 18.5 to 24.9. ACUTE patients typically have a BMI closer to 8 to 15, and weigh 56 to 104½ pounds.