National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is February 22-28, 2021.
The impact of the disease demands a compassionate response
- Eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders, surpassed only by opiod addiction.
- Eating disorders are associated with some of the highest levels of medical and social disability of any psychiatric disorder.
- Available evidence suggests that eating disorder patients may be particularly sensitive or vulnerable to stress and its consequences.
Increase attention to the marginalized – it’s not just a white female disease
- In a study of 1,383 adolescents, the prevalence of any DSM-5 ED in males was reported to be 1.2% at 14 years, 2.6% at 17 years, and 2.9% at 20 years.
- Despite similar rates of eating disorders among non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians in the United States, people of color are significantly less likely to receive help for their eating issues.
APA Practice Guidelines (2000 and 1993) reports these medical findings
- Physical consequences of eating disorders include all serious disorders caused by malnutrition, especially cardiovascular compromise.
- Prepubertal patients may have arrested sexual maturity and growth failure.
- Even those who “look and feel deceptively well” with normal EKGs may have cardiac irregularities, variations with pulse and blood pressure, and are at risk for sudden death.
- Prolonged amenorrhea (>6 months) may result in irreversible osteopenia and a high rate of fractures.
- Abnormal CT scans of the brain are found in >50% of patients with anorexia nervosa.
The National Eating Disorder Association’s (NEDA) mission is to support individuals and families affected by eating disorders and to facilitate prevention and access to quality care. NEDA launched this year’s theme invites Every Body to Have a Seat at the Table, “where marginalized communities continue to be underrepresented, we welcome conversations on raising awareness, challenging systemic biases, and sharing stories from all backgrounds and experiences.”
Learn more about eating disorders and this year’s theme at https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-involved/nedawareness/resources.
Referral help can be found at https://www.allianceforeatingdisorders.com/.
Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders (STRIPED), fostered by the Harvard Chan School of Public Health and Boston Children’s Hospital, have a mission to train the next generation of health professionals. Find free e-learning (CEUs) available https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/striped/.
Project Maria is a local non-profit whose mission is to provide support to the general public, health professionals and those in need of treatment support in southern Wisconsin. Visit http://projectmaria.org/ for more information.