Feb. 23-March 1 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, designed to promote public and media attention to the seriousness of these disorders, their biological underpinnings, environmental triggers, warning signs and ways to help those affected. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), “many individuals, families and communities are not aware of the often devastating mental and physical consequences” of eating disorders, what leads to them in the first place and what kinds of treatments are effective in tackling them.
Eating disorders are complex illnesses – not lifestyle choices – that arise from a combination of longstanding behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, biological and social factors. They include, but are not limited to, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Nearly 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lives. Those who suffer are highly secretive, and the impact of their disorder is not always evident in their appearance or outward behavior.
NEDA emphasizes the great importance of education, early diagnosis and intervention, and access to care for individuals with eating disorders. While they are serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses, recovery is possible.
It’s highly likely we all know someone who has suffered or still is from these debilitating disorders. Learn more by visiting the websites of NEDA or the Eating Disorder Coalition of Iowa (EDCI).