By Haley Sullivan
This Happened to Me:
During the pandemic, I fell into the hole of eating disorders. It started innocently; I would
do workout videos to stay fit while being stuck in the house since my extracurricular activities
were canceled for the time being. Slowly, I began exercising more and eating less. I would get in
fights about food and my weight over silly harmless comments. I would spend hours
overanalyzing everything I have eaten that day and making myself feel guilty. Of course,
some days I would cave and “binge” when my neighbors and I would have dinner together. I
would then punish myself the next day and workout harder and longer to balance out all the
“unnecessary” calories I consumed the night before. It took me a long time to finally admit and
get help for my eating disorder. I still struggle from time to time, but nothing compared to what I
used to force myself to endure.
My Story is not Unique, here’s the Problem:
I am not alone in my fight against eating disorders. The ANAD reports that 9%, or
28.8 million Americans, will struggle with an eating disorder (2). It is a public health crisis that
is not addressed enough. The public health problem being presented deals with both mental
health and physical health. Eating disorders are a common problem among female and male
college students. They affect people of any race, age, gender, or sexual orientation. Eating
disorders are most often diagnosed in teenagers, but many can receive their first diagnosis in
adulthood (4). They can cause a wide range of symptoms. Some symptoms of anorexia nervosa,
bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are thin, weak bones, low iron levels, low blood
pressure, drop in body temperature, kidney failure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood
pressure, and heart problems (1). Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. They are also among the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid overdose (3). With eating
disorders being so deadly, it needs to be taken more seriously and more effort needs to be put into
trying to help those struggling. There are 10,200 deaths each year due to eating disorders, that’s
one death every 52 minutes (3). Eating disorders should not be pushed under the rug and ignored
due to the awkwardness around them. It is not a phase someone will grow out of, it is something that
can/will cause serious mental and physical illnesses.
Here is a Non-Profit Working to Solve the Problem:
Luckily, no one who is struggling is alone. NEDA, The National Eating Disorders
Association is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to supporting individuals and
families that are affected by eating disorders. They provide a catalyst for prevention, cures, and
access to quality care. They have online chat, call, and texting hours available for anyone who is
struggling. This is a perfect resource to use if you are struggling or know someone who is
struggling and want to better understand and help. Helping NEDA raise money and showing
support for eating disorders can create a big impact on this public health issue. Treatment is the
best way that one can recover, and more money and resources will help ensure that those who
need help receive it. More importantly, it starts with prevention. Using the Instagram feature
that allows one to filter out weight loss ads can make a big impact in your life and others’ since
society’s beauty standards or triggering ads aren’t being shoved in one’s face.
Here’s what you can do to Help, Right Now!
We need your help to end this public health issue. Educate yourself if you or a loved one
are struggling with an eating disorder by completing the screening test on the NEDA website,
https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/screening-tool. You can also help by getting involved
and showing support, like going on NEDA Walks or participating in NEDAwareness week.
Lastly, let your loved ones and those struggling know that you care and will help them during
recovery because having support and someone holding you accountable makes a big impact.
- National Eating Disorders Association. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/
- Eating disorder statistics: General & Diversity stats: Anad. https://anad.org/eating-
- Why are eating disorders dangerous?
- Who is affected by eating disorders? Kelty Eating Disorders.