From February 25th to March 3rd, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) will be highlighting its fight through National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. This year’s theme: Come As You Are, a theme dedicated toward inspiring body acceptance and positivity, which can help prevent eating disorders from manifesting. NEDA has also articulated that this year’s theme was chosen to highlight that eating disorders don’t discriminate and affect people across lines of gender, colour and sexuality.
About Eating Disorders
More than 30 million Americans struggle with some form of eating disorder. Despite their trivialization as a minor issue or a choice, someone dies approximately every hour, directly from an eating disorder.
While eating disorders conjure up thoughts of the calorically-deficient Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S. and can increase the risks of other health issues ranging from diabetes to obesity. Another one that many people don’t know about but some shows have ‘popularized’ as a form of entertainment, Picais the compulsive eating of substances that are largely non-nutritive, including hair, soil, metal and more. Apparently, the disorder is on the rise – between 1999 and 2009, Pica hospitalizations increased 93 per cent, more than any other eating disorder. More forms of eating disorders exist, including those that don’t are more individual in nature, previously categorized as “eating disorder not otherwise specified” (EDNOS), which because of their lack of precedence, can be harder to treat.
How are They Treated?
Given the variety of eating disorders, symptoms and difference in psychological factors in each individual, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating eating disorders. Other health issues and complications that arise from eating disorders, like kidney issues for those suffering from Anorexia or heart disease in those with Binge-Eating Disorder, can further change a medical professional’s approach. The Mayo Clinic cites a multi-pronged approach that includes the development of a treatment plan, psychological therapy, nutrition education and medication and hospitalization, if required. There are many similarities in treatment to those with substance abuse issues – in fact, “50% of individuals with eating disorders abused alcohol or illicit drugs, a rate five times higher than the general population.” NEDA cites that as with substance abuse, early intervention in the fight against an eating disorder is essential.
Come As You Are and Get Involved
Ahead of National Eating Disorder Week, NEDA has launched the Body Acceptance Challenge; encouraging people to “reject diet culture” by accepting their bodies, respecting others and fighting weight stigma. They’ve also partnered with the Mall of America to provide training and support for its guests, tenants and employees.
There will be several Eating Disorder Awareness Walks held over the coming week across America: