In the United States, as many 10 million women and 1 million men struggle with anorexia and bulimia, and 25 million suffer from a binge eating disorder — and that’s just the ones who aren’t afraid to admit they have an eating disorder. These are often lifelong battles that can mean the difference between life and death, which is why it’s critically important to raise awareness about the dangers of eating disorders. Every year, thousands of people participate in Eating Disorder Awareness Week, a national event sponsored by National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) to attract public and media attention to the severity of eating disorders.
What is Eating Disorder Awareness Week?
Eating Disorder Awareness Week is a collective effort by eating disorder professionals, health care providers, educators, social workers and individuals to raise awareness about the dangers of eating disorders and the behaviors, attitudes and pressures that contribute to them. During the last week of every February, participants in Eating Disorder Awareness Week organize events, share stories and hand out educational materials at schools, offices, fitness centers, community centers, churches and more.
The Goal of Eating Disorder Awareness Week
The ultimate goal of Eating Disorder Awareness Week is to prevent eating disorders and body image issues among women and men. The first step to obtaining this goal is to help people understand that eating disorders are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices. They are complex conditions that are created by years of emotional, psychological, behavioral, biological and social factors. Eating disorders may begin as a preoccupation with food and weight, but this is only a symptom of a greater problem.
Eating disorders can seriously harm a person’s health and can ultimately lead to death, which leads to the second step to obtaining this goal: improving access to treatment by pushing insurance companies to cover appropriate treatment for these illnesses.
And finally, the third step is to increase efforts to educate the medical, educational and work communities to help with education and prevention. Once this is accomplished, more funding can be raised for research to find better treatments and cures.
What is NEDA?
According to their website, NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA campaigns for prevention, improved access to quality treatment, and increased research funding to develop programs and tools to help everyone who needs help with an eating disorder.
Getting Help: Recovery from Eating Disorders is Possible
Eating disorders are preventable and treatable illnesses, yet hundreds of people die from them every year. The journey to recovery can be a long one but recovery is possible, especially if help is received. If you suffer from an eating disorder, a treatment facility can help you on the right path toward recovery. Without treatment, up to 20% of people with serious eating disorder will die. In fact, anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
Within treatment you’ll receive individual and group therapy to address the underlying emotional and behavioral issues so that recovery is achieved and maintained. You’ll also receive nutritional counseling and support from trained medical professionals. When choosing an eating disorder program, choose one that makes you feel comfortable and respected. Also look for a facility that has experts specializing in your disorder and one that provides comprehensive treatment. Comprehensive treatment should include individual and group therapy, psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, and even holistic methods of treatment.