(CNN) — In 2011, Brittany Miles considered food to be her enemy.
Having been tormented by schoolmates for being overweight since she was 7, she decided to fight back the only way she knew how.
At the beginning of her senior year of high school, at a size 18, Miles began compulsively dieting and exercising. By the time she started college the following year, she was down to a size 4 and was obsessed with losing weight.
“Our society and my peers told me that I wasn’t loveable when I was fat. That when I was fat, I couldn’t be anything else,” said Miles, now a senior and a biology major at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. “So, I was determined to be the farthest thing from fat possible.”
She began what she called a war against calories, and it quickly spiraled out of control. She limited herself to 400 to 600 calories and did 90 minutes of intense cardio daily. Yet at her lightest, Miles never dropped below a size 4.
“Just because my bone structure stopped me from being the size 00 everyone pictures, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t in an incredibly unsafe and unhealthy place,” she said.
Although she was 15 pounds underweight, no one caught onto her habits because they were too busy praising her for her weight loss.
“We constantly push people to lose weight, but sometimes that’s not right for everyone,” Miles said.
In the United States, some 20 million women and another 10 million men suffer from a clinical eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. Many people also struggle with some form of body dissatisfaction or unhealthy eating behaviors that can lead to the development of clinical disorders. Studies suggest half a million teens are suffering from eating disorders, and that their concerns about weight begin as young as 6.