We are currently in the midst of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which began on Saturday February 21st, and will take place all the way up until Saturday February 27th. The week provides a time to educate people and raise awareness around the many different eating disorders that can develop among individuals. Unfortunately, there is a stigma around eating disorders, and most tend to relate this condition to solely anorexia or bulimia; when there are other facets to eating disorders which includes healthy eaters that go to the extreme, fitness fanatics, as well as overeaters.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association NEDA, there are about 30 million people across the U.S. that may have an eating disorder, but do not realize it. As Claire Mysko, CEO, NEDA, recently noted, there may be many individuals out there that perhaps don’t meet the clinical symptoms of an eating disorder, but still could be struggling; as not all signs of an eating disorder can be obvious, especially if there are no physical effects that are apparent.
First off, there is binge eating disorder (BED). BED is suffered by those who simply cannot control how much food they are consuming, and often overeat. They tend to eat large amounts of food, in a small span of time; and then feel tremendously guilty by their actions and inability to control their food intake. It has been reported that 1.6 percent of adolescents suffer from BED, as well as two percent of adult males, and 3.5 percent of adult females.
Another disorder on the spectrum that seems to be emerging, yet hard to recognize, is one known as anorexia athletica; a condition where individuals partake in too much fitness, in hopes to lose weight.
Then there are ‘other specific feeding or eating disorders’ (OSFEDS): which classify within consistent or occasional limiting of food, binging, or purging. As such, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, states that OSFEDS encompasses approximately 70 percent of all cases that are reported as eating disorders. Again, OSFEDS is difficult to diagnose, as there are no instantaneous physical side effects from eating habits (especially if they are occasional), so it can be hard to pin point in an individual.
MSN reports that Mysko states that the 2016 theme for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is early intervention. Getting tested can take under three minutes, thanks to an online tool offered by NEDA. While this doesn’t provide an official diagnosis, the tool can help raise red flags, and help individuals understand the importance of getting help, and what unhealthy eating patterns can do to them in the future.