February 22, 2015 kicked off the week of eating disorder awareness known as NEDAwareness week an implement of the National Eating Dis­order Association(NEDA) and the 27th occurrence. A week dedicated to raising awareness to eating disorders and draw­ing attention to triggers, causes, and treatment; this year’s theme was “I Had No Idea.” Oftentimes the signs and symptoms of eating disorders are over­looked or even misdiagnosed. The idea behind the theme was to focus on rec­ognizing the diversity of the experi­ences of people with eating disorders and to bring to the center of attention the importance of early intervention. This year each day focused on a spe­cific challenge. Day one being the media role, day two being diversity, three ath­letes, four eating disorders in youth and bullying, five eating disorders and diet­ing, six the medical community’s role and seven parents’ role. Across the nation a number of events were held to bring awareness and most importantly to pro­vide forums for dialogue on a national level about an issue that affects so many American lives.

According to the NEDA website, “20 million women and 10 million men [in the U.S] suffer from a clinically signifi­cant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS).” Since the 1950s the rate of new case eating disorder develop­ment has generally been on the rise. A focus on body weight is a prevalent and common concern amongst Americans today and it crosses all boundaries of age, gender, race, and class. NEDA web­site stated that, “40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.” Also that, “The prevalence of eating disorders is similar among non-Hispan­ic Whites, Hispanics, African-Ameri­cans and Asians, with the exception that anorexia nervosa is more common among non-Hispanic Whites.” Now ac­cording to the American Psychiatric Association, “Eating disorders clearly illustrate the close links between emo­tional and physical health.” NEDA de­scribes eating disorders as, “are poten­tially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s emotional and physical health.” NEDA media release said re­garding the week of awareness and how we the community can get involved and raise awareness, “Educating yourself and those around you about eating disorders is a great way to get involved. Correcting myths and spreading awareness about the facts are important steps to eating disorder prevention.”

NEDAwareness week involved spon­sored activities and events all over the United States. Thousands of people across the nation hosted and held events during the week to bring awareness to their communities. Tacoma held the only Washington state event that was registered with NEDA. Karis Wellness a counselling service provider serving Pierce County hosted an event at the University of Puget Sound in their Kilworth Chapel on February 19 start­ing the week off in advance yet as stated on the Facebook event page in com­miseration of “National Eating Disorder Awareness Month.” The event involved a movie viewing of Someday Melissa and a panel discussion following. Over 30 people showed up to the free to the pub­lic event to grow in awareness of this issue which affects us in one way or another.

Although the NEDAwareness week is complete, opportunities to volunteer or contribute to the mission of bringing awareness to eating disorders are avail­able through the NEDA website.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ALLISON PHAM
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