National Eating Disorder Awareness week is among us. This year from Feb. 26 to Mar. 4 the theme is “Let’s Get Real,” where the goal is to open up and start discussing the complicated relationships our culture has with food, exercise and appearance, according to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA).
NEDA defines eating disorders as “a serious but treatable mental illness that can affect people of every age, sex, gender, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic group”. National surveys held by NEDA estimate that 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder in America.
30 million Americans will struggle with an eating disorder while millions more will struggle with body image issues.
The most common eating disorder in the United States is binge eating disorder. This specific disorder is characterized by continuous episodes of eating large amounts of food, usually done quickly and to the point of discomfort.
Eating disorders are potentially life threatening, according to NEDA. They are conditions that can seriously affect a person’s mental and physical health. They are considered bio-psycho-social diseases, which means that genetic, biological, environmental and social factors all play a role in the development of an eating disorder.
Eating disorders have the highest death rate out of all psychiatric illnesses, including clinical depression, anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder. Apart from all of the medical complications that come along with anorexia, bulimia, starvation and binge eating disorder, suicide rates are high among individuals with eating disorders. It takes a high toll on the emotional psyche of individuals who are battling their relationship with food. These diseases also leave many at risk of kidney failure, heart attack and osteoporosis.
Although, eating disorders are more common in women, there is a growing number of men and non-binary individuals opening up about their struggles with food as well. Research conducted in 2007 by the CDC shows that one out of three people with eating disorders are men. A 2015 study showed that transgender people had been the most diagnosed that year.
Children as young as five and six are are being diagnosed with eating disorders. Though some being treated for these disorders are in their teens, many admit that their thoughts and behaviors started at a much younger age. Adults can be treated later on in life due to relapse of past behaviors.
Eating disorders were commonly believed to be a chosen lifestyle. But they are actually serious and fatal diseases that many people in the United States struggle with.
“Adequate nutrition, reducing excessive exercise and stopping purging behaviors are the foundations of treatment,” the National Institute of Mental Health says on their website.
Eating Disorders 101
Wednesday, February 28
6 p.m. — Buckman Theatre
The Quinnipiac University counseling department will be joined by Walden Behavioral Health, Center for Discovery and private practice clinicians to promote prevention and awareness of eating disorders.
Eating Disorder Screening
by Quinnipiac Counselors
Thursday, March 1
12-2 p.m. — SC116
Completely free and completely anonymous screenings for eating disorders.
“Body Beautiful” —
Thursday, March 2
10 a.m. and 11 a.m. — AC Dance Studio B
Exploring mindful movement and the treatment of eating disorders
If you or anyone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, the Health Center offers counseling for recovery. The Center For Discovery is a facility that specializes in treating eating disorders, located in New Haven. The NEDA also has a helpline for support, resources, and treatment. The helpline available Mon- Thurs from 9am-9pm and Friday from 9am-5pm and can be contacted at (800) 931-2237.