An estimated 30 million people in the U.S. have an eating disorder in any given year. Despite the stereotype that eating disorders affect predominantly young women and teens, nearly one-third of those with eating disorders are men. More than 13% of women over 50 also engage in disordered eating. It’s an issue that impacts all communities. National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, from February 25 through March 3, highlights the problem and the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board's Wellness, Health Promotion & Prevention team encourages people to get screened online, at no cost and confidentially encourages people to , at no cost and confidentially, through our website.
In the last 30 days, of those individuals in our community who took the online screening for disordered eating through our website, 45% scored “at risk” and 27% “may be at risk.”
Some eating disorders include:
- Anorexia Nervosa – characterized by an obsessive fear of weight gain, which can lead to calorie restricting, purging calories, and compulsive exercise.
- Binge Eating Disorder – characterized by frequent and compulsive overeating, marked by distress and lack of control.
- Bulimia Nervosa – characterized by bingeing and purging food.
- Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) – there are many ways in which people might engage in disordered eating behaviors, and sometimes they don’t fit neatly into a defined disorder. This can include body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive thoughts related to body size, and orthorexia, a preoccupation with healthy eating, “clean foods,” and excessive exercise.
Eating disorders are mental health conditions with physical symptoms. Like any mental health disorder, there are barriers to treatment, with more than 70% of those with eating disorders not getting help.
Eating disorders are the most fatal mental health disorders, both because of the physical complications of disordered eating, and because it leads some of its sufferers to suicide. Additionally, according to the National Eating Disorder Association, eating disorders affect people from all demographics and all ethnicities; people of color are significantly less likely to receive help for their eating issues. But with screenings, early detection, and treatment, up to 80% of those who get help for an eating disorder are able to recover or improve significantly. Treatment can vary widely and could include therapy, group sessions, guidance from nutritional professionals, or medication. Someone with an eating disorder will also be living with another mental health disorder, like anxiety or bipolar disorder, and so working with a mental health professional can make it easier to address all causes of disordered eating.
Take an online mental health screening and share this link with others in your life. You might not know who could be silently struggling with disordered eating: http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/northern-virginia.
Contact for news media inquiries: Lucy Caldwell, Communications Director, 703-324-7006 (office), 703-856-5210 (cell).