A message from the National Eating Disorder Association:
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.
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!
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