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Access Health Highlights: Eating Disorder Awareness

Eating disorders are a serious health condition that affects both your physical and mental health. About nine percent of Americans will experience an eating disorder at some point in their life. That is approximately 28.8 million Americans.

These conditions include problems in how you think about food, eating, weight, shape, and your eating behaviors. The symptoms can affect your health and ability to function.

 

If not treated properly, long-term problems can occur and, in serious cases, can lead to death. The common types of eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. But with proper treatment, you can return to a healthier eating lifestyle and a healthier way to think about food and your body.

Symptoms

Symptoms for eating disorders can vary depending on the type you have: Anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. People with all different body types and sizes can suffer from eating disorders.

Anorexia

Also referred to as anorexia nervosa is when an individual has an unhealthy low body weight, fear of gaining weight, and a view of the weight and shape that is not realistic. It often involves extreme measures to control your weight and shape, which can lead to serious problems with health and daily life. People with anorexia may limit their calorie intake or cut out certain foods from their diet. Other methods to lose weight might include exercising too much, using laxatives, or vomiting after eating.

Bulimia

Bulimia nervosa includes severely limiting eating for periods that often leads to stronger urges to binge eat and then purge. Binge eating refers to eating large amounts of food in a short period. People feel like they have no control over their eating and can’t stop when binge eating. Purge eating includes vomiting, exercising too much, or not eating for an extended period. Bulimia also often involves harsh self-judgment of personal appearance.

Binge-eating

Binge-eating disorder is eating large amounts of food in a short amount of time. The difference between other eating disorders and binge eating is it is not followed by purging. During a binge, people may eat food faster or eat more food than planned but will continue to feel not hungry long past uncomfortably full. People with binge-eating disorder often feel disgust or shame after eating because they fear gaining weight. They will try to avoid eating foods, but it will lead to increased urges to binge.

President Biden Message

Recently, President Biden declared February 26 to March 3, 2024, as National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. “I encourage citizens, government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other interested groups to join in activities that will increase awareness of what Americans can do to prevent eating disorders and that will improve access to care and other support services for those currently living with an eating disorder,” a statement from the White House

See a Doctor

Many people with eating disorders may not think they need treatment. Many people with eating disorders will not realize how severe their symptoms are. They will feel guilt and shame from their disorder so will often try to prevent people from helping them.

If you’re worried about a friend or family member, urge them to seek help. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders has a helpline you can reach at 888-375-7767.

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