About 9% of Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. Eating disorders can affect people of all ages, genders, races and sexual orientations, and may not always have obvious symptoms. In 2023, February 27 through March 5 is Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and the perfect time to learn a bit about these illnesses, what resources are available to help understand them and how you can help someone who may be struggling.
Put broadly, eating disorders are illnesses characterized by unhealthy preoccupations with food and weight. The three most common eating disorders are:
An eating disorder is a complex illness and it’s not possible to alleviate someone’s suffering with this condition. However, it is helpful to offer support, empathy and encouragement to seek treatment. Here’s how:
The Wellness Library has an article you can share with employees that may help them understand how eating disorders affect their oral health and how they can seek treatment. Additionally, there are websites and helplines that offer support. The National Eating Disorders Association has a helpline, as well an always-available Crisis Text Line. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorder also has a helpline and references for support groups, treatment centers and more.