Can you spot someone with an eating disorder?

RGBstock photo-Lusi

RGBstock photo-Lusi

This week, from February 2nd until  the 8th,  marks  Eating Disorder Awareness Week.  It’s an annual event presented by National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC),  a non-profit organization founded in 1985 to provide information and resources on eating disorders and food and weight preoccupation.

First things, first.  How can you tell if a person has an eating disorder? Check out this video from NEDIC and see if you think along the same lines.

While it is just one week devoted to the issue of eating disorders, concerns about their toll on health are much more far-reaching.  And it’s not just the person with the eating disorder that suffers.  Family members can also pay a steep price due to often years of worrying about the person with the eating disorder.

While anorexia nervosa and extreme thinness may be what comes to mind when you think of eating disorders,  there are others as well. Bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are examples of other types of eating disorders. Getting a diagnosis is key as the longer a person suffers from these, the longer it takes for treatment to be successful.

NEDIC also reports a  frightening  statistic:  anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness – it is estimated that 10% of individuals with anorexia  will die within 10 years of the onset of the disorder.

While the media is not to blame, they are certainly a major contributor.  Their messages are everywhere:  being thin is what every woman can be and should try to attain.   The stories in the media, such as how fast a certain celeb lost her baby weight or how another has let herself go (and now looks normal), all serve to make women feel bad about their bodies.

According to NEDIC, children are now learning (unhealthy) mainstream attitudes towards food and weight at a very young age. In a study of five-year-old girls, a significant proportion of girls associated a diet with food restriction, weight-loss and thinness.

Body pre-occupation isn’t just a female issue. While it’s long been recognized that female models must be tall and almost emaciated looking, their male counterparts, to get the top jobs,  are now being  expected to  also be thin  and appear more androgynous.

So what roles do we play? Any of you who have read my posts about bodyweight are likely familiar with my attitude. If not, read my posts, It’s not OK to comment on a person’s weight – overweight or thin and Women-it’s time to open our big mouths  and you’ll get the picture.

What are your thoughts on the topic? Do you know anyone with an eating disorder? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Another post you might like:

Marci 002The Body Image Survival Guide for Parents

“You’ve got such a pretty face. Read more

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Categories: Rosie's Rants

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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