ED Awareness

EATING DISORDERS. Did that make you uncomfortable? For many, I’m sure it did. Eating disorders are categorized as mental health illnesses and just like others in that same category, they are considered taboo topics.

By definition, an eating disorder is considered any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. This means that being extremely thin is not the only sign of an eating disorder. It doesn’t even have to be a sign at all. That’s right, there is much more to them than that. neda

“You don’t have to look like you have an eating disorder to have one.”

According to the NEDA website and the DSM-5, there are three main types of eating disorders:


  • Inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is clearly too low.
  • Intense fear of weight gain, obsession with weight and persistent behavior to prevent weight gain.
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image.
  • Inability to appreciate the severity of the situation.
  • Binge-Eating/Purging Type involves binge eating and/or purging behaviors during the last three months.
  • Restricting Type does not involve binge eating or purging, but restricting food intake.


Binge Eating-

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes.
  • Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating.
  • Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior.



  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting or the use of laxatives.
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge-eating episodes.
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image.


There are also other types classified under the Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) category.

There are many causes of eating disorders. They can be genetic or caused by various psychological issues. Currently, about 30 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder; 20 million women, and 10 million men. Not only do these people suffer with eating disorders, but there is also a high comorbidity rate with depression. And sadly, only about 10% of people seek help. Because of this, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

The influence of media has had a direct impact on the statistics of eating disorders. The age of initial diagnosis is steadily decreasing over time. Magazines, toys, peers, and even parents can influence a person’s body image. As the number of cases increase, the amount of research and funding does not correlate. Surprisingly, in 2011 eating disorders received only $.93 per affected individual for research. (Less than one dollar!!!) Other mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s averaged $88 per affected individual and Schizophrenia $81 per affected individual. Eating disorder research is extremely underfunded even though it has one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness.

Unfortunately, with this lack of funding and research, the topic remains stigmatized in our culture. Directly proportional to the inadequacy is the number of undocumented cases, especially among men who fear social ridicule. With open conversation on the topic, we can destigmatize eating disorders and help those who suffer, cope. It’s easy to look at all of the negatives but instead, here are a few ways to see the positives:

NEDA 10 steps.png

Culturally Significant:

Although the U.S. has been accused for being notorious for promoting unrealistic beauty standards, it does not top the list of countries with eating disorders. (Ironically, as I typed the last sentence a Victoria’s Secret ad popped up on my screen.) India comes in as the second highest country prevalence, and has seen an enormous increase in cases within the past decade. Topping off the list at number one, is China.

*Finally, if you are curious about learning more information, are worried about a loved one, or if you would like to find help, visit the websites below. You are all ENOUGH.*




2 thoughts on “ED Awareness

  1. Great blog and I think a great topic for todays day and age. I agree that a lot of eating disorders go undocumented and unnoticed by many people and I also agree that we need more funds to do better research on the issue. I had no idea that eating disorders have the highest rates of mortality of any mental illnesses. That blows my mind, and with that fact alone, we should definitely start doing more to prevent it.


  2. Great post! I agree that we need to provide more funding for eating disorder research especially considering how deadly it is. I really appreciate that you mentioned that people with eating disorders aren’t always thin. It seems dangerous to assume that someone can’t have an eating disorder if they have a normal or higher than average weight. I definitely think that society has an impact on eating disorders. One of the saddest aspects of eating disorders in my opinion is that generally when someone begins to lose weight we immediately compliment them and encourage the weight loss and I can only imagine how harmful that must be.


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