Opinion

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week shines light on silent struggle

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February is the shortest month of the year, yet it seems to have the most going on. With Black History Month, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras and Presidents’ Day all occurring throughout the 28 days, most people seem to forget that February also has National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, starting Feb. 22.

The problem with this is that NEDA Week is extremely important because it is a time to educate yourself about a disease that affects over 20 million Americans each year. The purpose of this week is to recognize the importance of this illness. By learning more about eating disorders and being able to identify symptoms, you may be able to help save lives and help someone enter recovery.

Most people think they know what an eating disorder is, what its symptoms are and how to identify someone who has it, but they don’t. Because of this, many people do not realize that someone close to them could have an eating disorder. People need to be aware that eating disorders are not partial to a certain body size, race, gender or age.

In order to further understand what an eating disorder is and how much it affects people in the U.S., a few statistics from The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness are listed below.

  • Approximately 24 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder.
  • 25 percent of anorexia and bulimia cases are male.
  • Eating disorders kill. They have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
  • 64 percent of individuals with bulimia have a near-normal body weight.
  • Both genetic and environmental factors influence eating disorders.

Twenty-four million people suffer. 24 million suffer from a mental illness that no one knows enough information about. 24 million suffer thinking that no one cares enough to notice as they deteriorate mentally and physically. And of that 24 million, some suffer so greatly they end up dying.

Eating disorders are toxic. They are like a parasite, weakening the host’s body and mind while getting stronger. If untreated, it is deadly. But if someone detects it and treats it, complete recovery is possible.

The fact of the matter is that only one in ten men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. This is far too low. What happens to the other nine people? How much do they have to suffer until they receive help?

The sad truth that people who are suffering from eating disorders will rarely speak up about it. The emotional bond they have to their eating disorder is often too great to break, and at times, could be unbearable if broken.

That is why it is important to educate and detect symptoms of this illness. You could help someone change their life and health for the better.

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