National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Feb. 23 – March 1, 2014 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Learn how to increase awareness about this illness that affects millions in the United States.

Eating disorders are all too common in the United States today. According to Purdue University Counseling Center, as many as 20 million women and 10 million men experience an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

The average age of eating disorders ranges from 19-years-old for anorexia nervosa, 20-years-old for bulimia nervosa and 25-years-old for a binge eating disorder. There is no “one cause” for these illnesses. A combination of biological, psychological, social and familial issues may be associated with eating disorders.

Feb. 23 through March 1, 2014 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) aims to prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment. NEDA wants the public to understand that eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses, not choices, and it’s important to recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape the disorder.

Purdue University Counseling Center provides the following guidelines to preventing eating disorders:

  • Learn how to live a healthy lifestyle through nutritious eating and physical activity
  • Understand that self-worth is not purely defined by physical appearance
  • Challenge society’s misleading messages about beauty
  • Develop realistic expectations of self and body image
  • Accept one’s physical characteristics

Michigan State University Extension recommends that you contact a health professional immediately if you, or a family member are dealing with any issues associated with eating or is struggling with body image expectations. The National Eating Disorders Association has an information and referral helpline available at 1-800-931-2337.

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