This week marks the annual National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness). Wow, this year has gone fast. (Here is last year’s blog). This year’s theme is “Let’s Get Real”, with the hopes of expanding the conversation about people’s (often complicated) relationships with food, exercise, and body image. Like many mental health illnesses, the stigma and stereotypes about eating disorders run deep. What better way to get conversations flowing than by portraying eating disorders in a movie, right? RIGHT! Well ready or not, that’s what keeps happening.
Aaahhhhh….the Olympics. The time where one becomes an expert in a sport they only watch once every 4 years (“What were the curlers thinking with that move?!?”, “That ski jump was way more difficult than the other that got a higher score!”). I have enjoyed watching this Olympics more than prior years. One reason is that there were many teenagers doing really teenagery things (I’m aware teenagery is not a word, but it should be). There’s the 17 year old gold medal snowboarder, Red Gerard, who overslept on competition day after a night of binge-watching Netflix (and he couldn’t find his coat, so had to borrow someone else’s). Another 17 year old gold medal snowboarder, Chloe Kim, tweeted about her dietary habits in between her runs. It’s good to see all the Olympic fame hasn’t changed them.
It’s that time of year again: Feb 26- March 4, 2017 is National Eating Disorders Awareness week (#NEDAwareness). This year’s theme is: It’s time to talk about it! The goal is to increase the conversations about eating disorders to decrease their stigma. Previous eating disorders blogs I wrote have discussed prevalence, warning signs, focusing on healthy habits instead of weight, males with body image issues, and even a first-person account of living with an eating disorder. This year I’m going to focus on the intersection of eating disorders and other common mental health conditions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just released new guidelines to prevent both obesity and eating disorders in America’s youth. These chronic diseases are among the top three that plague children and adolescents in the U.S. About 30% of children and adolescents in the U.S. are now overweight or obese and nearly 3% have been diagnosed with an eating disorder. The nation’s obese youth continue to become more obese despite stable prevalence and more and more children are being diagnosed with eating disorders, especially teens who are just trying to “eat healthier.” When trying to achieve healthier weight, these at-risk populations find themselves on a very slippery slope with good intentions. Additionally, teens often use drastic and dangerous weight loss strategies including severe dieting, diet pills, purging and excessive exercise to get the results they desire.
Instead of coming from me, sometimes it’s better to hear stories directly from the people who are going through it. This powerful blog entry is written by a patient of mine during her battle with an eating disorder. She gave permission to share it. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please contact a health care provider. Check out National Eating Disorders Association for more information.
– Paula Cody, MD, MPH