National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2020

The Center for Total Health highlights Kaiser Permanente’s on-site farmers markets and Community Health initiatives via this interactive display.

This year’s theme for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is Come as You Are: Hindsight is 20/20, which encourages people who have or previously had an eating disorder to reflect “on the positive steps they’ve taken — including those stemming from setbacks or challenges — toward accepting themselves and others.”

Knowing that eating disorders are misunderstood and or stigmatized by many, we wanted to take this time to break down what they are, the impact they have, and highlight available resources for people living with them.

What are eating disorders, and how many people are affected?

Eating disorders are a category of mental and physical illnesses that affect a wide range of people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights. These illnesses are serious and sometimes life-threatening, and develop differently in different people. While treatable, the recovery journey can take time and is an ongoing process for many.

Eating disorders can be challenging to diagnose and sometimes are part of a co-occurring disorder, a condition in which someone has a co-existing mental illness or substance use disorder; and can make the precise scope of the impact hard to quantify.

National surveys estimate that 30 million Americans – 20 million women and 10 million men – will have an eating disorder at some point in their life. To put the size of this population into context, the top three most populous states in 2019 were California with 39,512,223, Texas with 28,995,881, and Florida with 21,447,737, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Are there resources available to help?

Thankfully, there are a range of resources available for people and their loved ones living with eating disorders.

Whether you or your loved one is living with an eating disorder, or you’re simply trying to better understand these conditions along with other mental and physical health issues, the takeaway is the same: There are resources available to help. We all have the power to improve the experiences of those around us by promoting practices that encourage self-acceptance and the acceptance of others.

 

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