COMMENTARY: Delaware joins fight against eating disorders

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, and it is estimated approximately 96,159 of them are Delawareans.

Eating disorders are real, complex and devastating conditions that can have serious consequences for health, productivity and relationships. They are not a fad, phase or lifestyle choice. Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions which have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder.

To combat this wide-spread problem, the National Eating Disorders Association is urging everyone to start having more honest conversations about food, exercise and body image issues during its annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAwareness Week), Feb. 26 – March 4.

Themed Let’s Get Real in 2018, NEDAwareness Week is an annual public health campaign that brings attention to the critical needs of people with eating disorders and their families when thousands of people come together in communities across the country, hosting events to raise awareness about body image; encouraging people to take an online screening to see if it’s time to get help; and opening the dialogue to break down stigma and stereotypes.

Also during NEDAwareness Week, dozens of landmarks across the country light up in NEDA’s signature green and blue colors to put a spotlight on the seriousness of eating disorders. From the famed Empire State Building in the east to Los Angeles International Airport’s stylish, 100-foot, glass pylons in the west, the Delaware State Capitol Building and the Woodburn mansion are joining in the effort on the evenings of March 1-4 and Feb. 25-March 3 respectively.

NEDAwareness Week has been observed during the final week of February for more than 30 years. This year, March is also officially being declared National Eating Disorders Awareness Month in the state of Delaware in recognition of the cause.

While there is hope and recovery is possible, early intervention is key and many people (including doctors) just don’t recognize the signs. The earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of physical and emotional recovery. In other words, early intervention literally saves lives.

10 Signs of an Eating Disorder

1. Drastic weight loss.

2. Preoccupation with counting calories.

3. The need to weigh yourself several times a day.

4. Excessive exercise.

5. Binge eating or purging.

6. Food rituals, like taking tiny bites, skipping food groups or re-arranging food on the plate.

7. Avoiding meals or only wanting to eat alone.

8. Taking laxatives or diuretics.

9. Smoking to curb appetite.

10. Persistent view of yourself as fat that worsens despite weight loss.

Think you or someone you know may need help?

Appropriate for ages 13 and up, NEDA’s confidential screening – which takes just minutes to complete – can help answer your questions and, if needed, direct you to treatment options in your area: www.NationalEatingDisorders.Org/Screening.

Learn more about NEDAwareness Week: www.NEDAwareness.org

Join the Conversation: #NEDAwareness. For treatment options, visit www.MyNEDA.org or contact NEDA’s Live Helpline at 800-931-2237, Monday – Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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