In Recognition of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Pink roseIn an effort to draw attention to the millions of people who wrestle with issues surrounding eating and body image on a daily basis, this week—the last week in February—has been dubbed National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week (nedawareness.org).

The National Eating Disorder Awareness website asserts that in the United States alone, 30 million people have or have had eating or food issues: approximately 20 million women, and 10 million men. People of all ages and genders are affected, though statistics show that women are far more likely to exhibit these issues than men, and 95% of those with eating issues are between the ages of 12 and 25.

The prevalence of eating issues in women over men may be partly due to the stigma surrounding seeking treatment; men may feel less inclined to admit they have a problem and reach out for help than women. However, female adolescents remain especially prone to the obsessive dieting and body image issues characteristic of eating disorders, largely due to media messaging and peer influence.

NEDA’s “I Had No Idea” video series highlights the effects of eating disorders that go beyond the people experiencing them; family members and loved ones also feel the strain.

Allison Krieger Walsh, who is on NEDA’s Board of Directors, shares how she “had no idea” that her eating issues would impact her ability to have children until her doctor pointed out her issues with fertility. Don Blackwell, who says his daughter had an eating disorder, shares about the efforts he has made to understand the role of a father in offering support and guidance.

A woman named April talks about the importance of offering “nonjudgmental support,” which she strives to do with her sister, who is currently undergoing treatment for eating issues. Many others share their stories, as well.

Another lesser known fact is that the mortality rates for eating and food issues, particularly anorexia, are significant—in fact, they have the highest rate of fatality of all mental health conditions. Restrictive or disordered eating and excessive exercise take a toll on the mind and the body; heart and/or organ failure are the unfortunate consequences for some.

Eating issues can be complex and can originate from other mental health issues. In a 2012 TEDx Talk video, physician Laura Hill explains what is really happening in the mind and body of someone with an eating disorder:

The hope is that the more people are aware of the consequences associated with anorexia, bulimia, and other forms of disordered eating, as well as how widespread and common these issues are, the more likely people are to intervene and offer support to those who are experiencing them.

Reference:

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Eating disorders statistics. Retrieved from http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/

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  • Ellis

    Ellis

    February 28th, 2014 at 3:56 AM

    We have to take away the shame and add to the understanding

  • Kaitlyn

    Kaitlyn

    March 1st, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    If you have ever struggled with this then you know how hard it is to break those patterns of behavior that become terribly ingrained in you once you start seeing the results that you think that you need to see. But this never brings you happiness, for the most part it only brings you more concerns and obsessions, with which comes a lost of self esteem as well as health.

  • jimmy

    jimmy

    March 3rd, 2014 at 4:02 AM

    There always seems to be so much focus on other things but never on this event hough you know there are tons of people who battle it, from overeating to anorexia

  • carter Boyd

    carter Boyd

    March 10th, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    I wish that we could all get past this emphasis on looks and weight! Who cares how much we weigh when what should be important is how we treat others and the things that we do in life to help other people. We have become so ridiculously bogged down in looks and appearances that it is killing people, people are losing their lives over this desire to look a certain way and to have this control in areas that maybe shouldn’t matter quite so much. I am glad that we have this awareness week, but there has to be more education across the board period. Men and women both are hurting, and I am not sure that I see an end in sight.

  • Joanne

    Joanne

    February 25th, 2015 at 8:56 PM

    Tips to help those who are family helping a loved one who just was diagnosed with ED
    1. Stay clam, listen well, be there for them
    2. Know their is help, treatment, and professionals that can help you.
    3. Don’t be in denial
    4. Don’t be afraid to seek the help needed
    5. Don’t wait
    6. There are many websites that can help you find treatment.
    7. Make some calls to treatment centers most will do free evaluations, ask questions
    8. Know the ED will take time to recover from, but is completley recoverable.
    9. Also, Your primary doctor can refer/ reccomend you to treatment facilities

    You Are Not Alone

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