February 21, 2014 (Scottsdale, AZ)
February 23 to March 1 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. You may not be as familiar with eating disorders as you may be with other serious illnesses, but according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), eating disorders are serious, and can be life threatening. About 30 million people in the U.S. are affected by an eating disorder. Eating disorders have no boundaries and can affect people of any age, race, sex or size.
The Types and Symptoms of Eating Disorders:
- Anorexia Nervosa – Intense fear of gaining weight, inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is clearly too low, being overly concerned with body image, may restrict food intake or binge and purge.
- Binge Eating Disorder – Eating large amounts of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain such as self-induced vomiting, feeling out of control during binge eating episodes and feeling shame or guilt regarding binge eating.
- Bulimia Nervosa – Frequent episodes of eating very large amounts of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain suck as self-induced vomiting and feeling out of control during an episode.
Other disorders include avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, Pica, Rumination Disorder and unspecified feeding disorders. You can learn more about these disorders and their symptoms at: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
Eating disorders can cause real heath problems. Individuals who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa can experience slow heart rate and low blood pressure, reduced bone density and muscle weakness, severe dehydration, kidney failure, fainting spells, dry hair and skin, growth of a downy layer of hair on the body called lanugo. Binge Eating Disorder health issues include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, type II diabetes and gallbladder disease. Bulimia Nervosa suffers can experience electrolyte imbalance, potential for gastric rupture, inflammation and rupture of the esophagus, tooth decay, irregular bowel movements and peptic ulcers.
Eating disorders affect people’s emotional and physical health and should be taken seriously and not considered a “phase” someone is going through. If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, take the time during this week-long campaign to spread awareness and to visit the NEDA’s website to learn more. Their site has many wonderful resources that you can access and a toll-free, confidential help line you can call. If you need help, know that you’re not alone and that there is help for you. They can be reached at: 1-800-931-2237.