National Survey Shows Dramatic Increase in Awareness of Eating Disorders

Results from a national survey conducted by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), a follow-up to focus group information the association collected 6 years ago, show that public awareness of eating disorders (EDs) has increased dramatically.

In fact, 82% of the survey respondents now agree that an ED is a physical or mental illness, 78% said they would know whether someone was suffering from an ED, and 95% said that they would seek help or encourage someone else if they had an ED.

“We have moved the thinking, and people are starting to have more empathy and concern and taking it more seriously. They’re seeing that these are actually very complicated illnesses,” she added.”I think the public is finally starting to get it,” Lynn Grefe, president and chief executive officer of NEDA, headquartered in Seattle, Washington, told Medscape Medical News.

However, the results also show that the overall level of knowledge has not increased, and the problem of EDs has not declined.

“There is still a lot of work to be done,” said Ms. Grefe. “The awareness campaign needs to shift to education about this disease. We really need to get into more depth of information about the illness because we’re still losing people.

“At least 25 million people in this country have some type of [ED], and those rates are not going down. And anorexia has the highest death rate of any mental illness,” she added.

The survey results were first announced by Ms. Grefe October 10 during her closing presentation at the NEDA annual meeting in New York City.

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