A look back on National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Trigger Warning: Speaking of Eating Disorders


Eating disorders are a silent killer. So many people struggle silently, and are afraid to share their story. National Eating Disorder Awareness Week shines the light on eating disorders as well as provides helpful resources, educating those about these disorders, and spreading a positive message to those who are struggling. 

This year, NEDAwareness Week invites everyone to “Have a Seat at The Table.” The NEDA Program welcomes those who want to share their stories, educate others on eating disorders, and helps those in need. These disorders may not present themselves in easily recognizable ways, and someone may be silently struggling. 

Eating disorders are often not understood by others correctly, and are underrepresented and dismissed. The five main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, and other specified eating/feeding disorders. According to John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, eating disorders affect all types of ethnicities, races, cultures, and are most present in people ages 12-25. Genetics, environment factors and personality types all also factor into who develops these disorders. Although these disorders are most common in women, men are still affected by eating disorders. 

The effects of these disorders can be and are often horrendous. Many believe that these only affect the will to eat, their muscle and fat. However, malnutrition affects people in many ways. Females’ periods may slow and men may have low levels of testosterone. Children who haven’t finished puberty may have a slower development than other teens. Someone may develop anemia, decreased immune function, and bleeding disorders. Their mood may change, they will become irritable, difficulty focusing, and mood changes. The digestive system may slow, causing constipation, bloating, and stomach pain. Also, malnutrition can lead to a slowed or distorted heart rate, which may cause someone to be dizzy and pass out. Eventually, the heart can even stop, killing the person struggling. 

Many believe that eating disorders are a choice, and that the people who are fighting these disorders are choosing to not eat. That is false. According to John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital research, eating disorders are complex mental illnesses, and they are not a choice. Many people who have eating disorders also struggle with other mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and OCD. However, there are many factors that play into what they are caused by. People’s genetics put them at risk for these disorders, and different social pressures and stresses cause them. 

Those who are fighting these disorders sometimes lose. Eating disorders have the highest death rate out of any mental illness, and they aren’t uncommon. They are the third most common among adolescents after asthma and obesity. With treatment, 60 percent of people who are struggling with eating disorders will recover completely, and 20 percent of people who have chronic anorexia will die if not treated. 

These disorders kill. They kill those who are struggling with them. NEDAwareness Week shines spotlight onto this, and raises awareness on this often overlooked topic. With NEDA Week, NEDA helps educate people about eating disorders, spreads a positive message to those who are struggling, and provides helpful resources to those in need. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, please reach out. There are so many people who are willing and wanting to help. NEDA has many programs that are there for those who are struggling. Their website has multiple different sources available to those who need them. Also, they have useful information on how to get help, support, and recovery. Their website is linked below.