By Cristina Mestre
Did you know that 20
million women and 10 million men will suffer from an eating disorder at
some point during their lifetime? Eating
disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that can cause
long-term physical and emotional damage.
This week marks the National Eating Disorders
Association’s NED Awareness Week, an
effort to spread knowledge and increase outreach about eating disorders, as
well as to reduce stigma and improve access to treatment.
This year’s theme is “everybody knows somebody” with an
eating disorder. That might include you.
Read on to learn the signs and symptoms. And be sure to check out UPMC's Liz McCabe, Ph.D., an eating disorders expert, who will participate in a Twitter chat today at 1 p.m.
Common eating disorders include:
Nervosa: a refusal or inability to maintain a normal body weight. This generally means less than 85 percent of ideal
body weight or a body mass index (BMI) of 17.5 or less. It is associated with an intense fear of
gaining weight or becoming fat, and anorexic individuals often deny the
seriousness of their low weight.
Nervosa: repeated episodes of binge eating with a sense of loss of control
over eating during the episodes. Bulimia
is associated with repeated use of inappropriate behaviors to prevent weight
gain or reverse it. These behaviors can include: fasting, self-induced
vomiting, misuse of laxatives or diet pills, excessive exercise, and occur at
least two times/week for at least three months. Self-esteem is also overly
influenced by weight or shape.
Eating Disorder (BED): repeated episodes of binge eating with a sense of
loss of control over eating, but no purging, fasting, or excessive exercise.
BED can mean eating much faster than normal or until uncomfortably full, eating
when not hungry, or eating alone because of embarrassment. Those with BED can
feel disgusted, depressed or guilty about eating. BED is characterized by such episodes at
least two days/week for at least six months.
disorders increase the risk of heart failure, kidney failure, ulcers, high blood pressure and other diseases. But the good news is that eating disorders are treatable – and preventable.