Eating Disorder Awareness Week

This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week and the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) is encouraging everyone to join the fight against eating disorders by just doing one thing to help spread awareness because everyone knows someone who is affected by an eating disorder.  Spreading awareness about these disorders is one way we can help the people in our lives that are affected by them.  It doesn’t matter if you are a parent, a teacher, a teenager, a business owner, a politician, or the bagger at the grocery store. There is something you can do this week to spread awareness and support the people around you that have anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or any other eating disorders.

The Stats

According to NEDA, an estimated 11 million people across the country are struggling with either anorexia nervosa or bulimia every day.  The battle they are waging is for survival and too many of them are losing the fight.  The mortality rate for girls between the ages of 15 and 24 who have anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the mortality rate for these girls from all other causes of death.  The number of Americans who have binge eating disorder (BED) is believed to be in the millions, but similar to the other eating disorders, experts believe that cases are underreported.

Despite the fact that each of the three primary eating disorders can cause serious, life-long health problems and premature death, only 1 in 10 receive treatment according to the National Association for Anorexia and Associated Disorders (ANAD).  Funding for eating disorder research continues to lag behind funding for other disorders, especially when you consider the ratio of dollars spent on research per affected individual.  NEDA indicates that in 2008, the National Institutes of Health provided $7M in research funding for eating disorders which affect 10 million Americans.  That same year, more than $400M was provided for Alzheimer’s research and almost $250M for research into schizophrenia which affect 4.5 million and 2.2 million people respectively.  This means that tax payers funded $113 of research per individual with schizophrenia, $92 per individual with Alzheimer’s, and $0.70 per individual with an eating disorder.

Just One Thing

This week is all about spreading awareness and NEDA is encouraging everyone to do just one thing to help with the fight because even doing just one thing makes a difference.  They offer the following suggestions for things you can do to join the fight.

  1. Speak Up!  You can volunteer to be a speaker in your community during awareness week.  NEDA provides pre-written presentations for volunteer speakers to use.
  2. Post It!  Spread awareness by posting to your social media sites and using your social network to encourage others to get involved.
  3. Speak Out!  Become a media watchdog and join with others who write letters to media outlets about their coverage of eating disorders.
  4. Give It! NEDA provides Healthy Body Image resources like Teaching Kids to Eat and Love Their Bodies Too!! that you can pay to have donated to a middle school in your area.
  5. Print It!  Go the NEDA Awareness Week website and register to participate.  Once registered, you will have access to a bunch of great resources including toolkits for a variety of people.  Download and print kits to give the educators at your local school, coaches of local teams, and parents you know to help spread the word.

Join the fight this week against eating disorders by doing just one thing to make a difference.  Your contribution, whether grand or small, will make a difference in the lives of people you know because everyone knows someone who is affected by an eating disorder.

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