Who gives a damn about eating disorders? NEDA does

How do you get an eating disorder?

We’ve done our share of stories about diets and health. Many of these have involved controversial topics such as Food Addiction and Obesity as a Mental Illness, The Black Swan as Eating Disorder Porn, and whether we can blame Hitler for Making Us Fat.

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. According to the National Eating Disorder’s Association, this year’s theme is called “It’s Time to Talk about It:”

We live in a culture saturated with unrealistic body-image messages and almost all of us know somebody struggling with an eating disorder. Because this is true, we urge you to talk about it……and do just one thing during NEDAwareness Week to bring awareness to the issue.

1. Eating disorders are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices
Eating disorders are complex conditions that arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, biological and social factors.

As our natural body size and shape is largely determined by genetics, fighting our natural size and shape can lead to unhealthy dieting practices, poor body image and decreased self-esteem.

While eating disorders may begin with preoccupations with food and weight, they are about much more than food. Recent research has shown that genetic factors create vulnerabilities that place individuals at risk for acting on cultural pressures and messages and triggering behaviors such as dieting or obsessive exercise.

In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Approximately 15 million more are struggling with binge eating disorder.

2. Education, early intervention, and access to care are critical
There has been a rise in incidence of anorexia in young women 15-19 years old in each decade since 1930; over one person’s lifetime, at least 50,000 individuals will die as a direct result of an eating disorder. In the United States, we are inundated with messages telling us that thinner
is better, and when we “fit” our culture’s impossible beauty standards, we will be happy.

Did you know that 80% of all ten year olds are afraid of being fat?

As a culture, it is time for all communities to talk about eating disorders, address their contributing factors, advocate for access to treatment and take action for early intervention. You can make a difference: do just one thing to initiate awareness, education and discussion about eating disorders in you community. If we all do something, we’ll have a tremendous impact!

 

3. Help is available, and recovery is possible
While eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses, there is help available and recovery really is possible.

It is important for those affected to remember that they are not alone in their struggle; others have recovered and are now living healthy fulfilling lives.

Let the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) be a part of your network of support. NEDA has information and resources available via our website and helpline:

NEDA Helpline: 800 931-2237

Related stories:

Picture your Diet

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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