Diets in Review - Find the Right Diet for You

National Eating Disorders Week is February 22-28

Eating disorders

According to NEDA, 4 in 10 Americans have had or know someone who has had an eating disorder.

Over these seven days, those touched and affected by an eating disorder will take part in events that foster awareness for eating disorders. Sponsored by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the organization is bringing people together to share their stories, information, ideas and hope in order to rally support for those impacted by an eating disorder.

Our body-obsessed culture is taking its toll on our health. From obesity to anorexia, while eating disorders are psychologically-based, there a host of environmental factors that enable a seemingly benign thought about body image to cascade into a full-blown disorder.

We here at Diets in Review are committed to doing our part to support healthy lifestyles by giving you objective and accurate health information. In honor of National Eating Disorder Week, we want to take a look at the face of eating disorders today and what we can do to prevent them.

Identifying the Disorder

Eating disorder experts recognize three distinct kinds of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, binge-eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa. Of the three, anorexia and bulimia are considered life threatening because they can lead to very serious complications such as symptom shutdown in the case of anorexia and cardiac arrest in the case of bulimia.

Given these three distinct classifications, there is a significant and growing gray area of disordered patterns of eating that affect millions of Americans, mostly girls and women. From only eating certain “safe” foods to compulsively weighing in on the scale or fasting to keep weight in check, the seemingly clear-cut lines of what is categorized as an eating disorder are not always so clear.

According to NEDA, 40% of new anorexia cases occur in girls 15- to 19-years-old.

According to NEDA, 40% of new anorexia cases occur in girls 15- to 19-years-old.

Understanding the Causes

Like a substance addiction such as alcohol or drugs, teasing out the precise causes for why one person develops an eating disorder and another does not is far from a linear process. According to the NEDA, there are three primary causes of eating disorders: Psychological factors such as low self-esteem, anxiety or feelings of inadequacy, Interpersonal factors such as a troubled family life or a history of sexual or physical abuse, and social factors like the glorification of thinness or the one-size-fits-all concept of beauty that our culture espouses.

Even though females make up the majority of eating disorder cases, males can also fall victim to the grips of these diseases. Researchers are also investigating how our genes and our biochemistry predispose us to having an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are intricately complex diseases that are caused from numerous factors. But once they manifest, the spiral along a path of physical, emotional and mental destruction that affects not just the individual sufferer, but those close to them as well. If you or someone you know is affected by an eating disorder, it is important to seek the help and support of a professional or support group.

Learning More

To learn more about how you can take part in National Eating Eating Disorders Week or to gather more information on eating disorders, visit the NEDA website.

Here is an eye-opening NEDA video, which features the real faces and stories of women and men suffering from eating disorders.

February 23rd, 2009