Love Your Body Week Brings Awareness to Eating Disorders

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Today is the beginning of Love Your Body Week (LYBW), a campaign which was started in 1998 by the National Organization for Women (NOW) Foundation to call attention to negative and harmful advertising, its impact on women and girls’ self esteem, and eating disorders.

It is estimated more than 11-million Americans have an eating disorder. Women are more likely than men to have eating disorders. Men and boys account for an estimated 5 to 15 percent of patients with anorexia or bulimia and an estimated 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders usually start in the teenage years, but have been seen to begin in preteens or adults. Often eating disorders occur along with depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse.

Eating disorder are marked by extremes: such as extreme reduction of food intake (anorexia nervosa) or extreme overeating (bulimia nervosa), or feelings of extreme distress or concern about body weight or shape.

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Often the person with an eating disorder started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food than usual, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spirals out of control. Eating disorders are very complex, and despite scientific research to understand them are not fully understood.

The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. A third category is "eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS)," which includes several variations of eating disorders. Most of these disorders are similar to anorexia or bulimia but with slightly different characteristics. Binge-eating disorder, which has received increasing research and media attention in recent years, is one type of EDNOS.

People with eating disorders also can suffer from numerous other physical health complications, such as heart conditions or kidney failure, which can lead to death.

To help prevent eating disorders in yourself or your children:

  1. Learn to love your body.
  2. Avoid categorizing and labeling foods (e.g. good/bad or safe/dangerous). All foods can be eaten in moderation.
  3. Make a commitment to exercise for the joy of feeling your body move and grow stronger, not to purge fat from your body or to compensate for calories, power, excitement, popularity, or perfection.
  4. Encourage your children to be active and to enjoy what their bodies can do and feel like.
  5. Do whatever you can to promote the self-esteem and self-respect of all of your children in intellectual, athletic, and social endeavors.

Sources
LoveYourBodyWeek.com
National Institute of Mental Health
National Library of Medicine

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