February is Eating Disorder Awareness Month, aimed at bringing light to an ever increasing issue.
“When you look at the incidents of eating disorders and the number of people that seek treatment less than 10% that struggle ever get treatment.”
Carolyn Chaffee, owner of Upstate New York Eating Disorder Service says unlike anorexia, which can be more easily recognized and is characterized by low body weight, the two most common types of eating disorders can be harder to spot.
Chaffee says, “So you have your bulimic population which typically binges and uses some different type of purging to get rid of what they have taken in and it could be exercise, it could be self-induced vomiting, it could be laxative abuse, and then you have individuals that struggle with compulsive eating or binge eating and that’s the highest prevalence.”
Chaffee says listening can be the easiest way to determine if somebody could be at high risk for an eating disorder.
“Mom do I look fat in this? Or I need to go on a diet, or look at that fat around my belly.”
Chaffee says, “Other things is when they say well I can’t eat that because there’s too many calories, or that’s going to make me fat, or you know these foods are unhealthy. There’s a fine line between healthy eating and disordered eating.”
Although eating disorders are mostly a result of genetics, Chaffee says media and culture also play a role.
She says, “If you look at your Miss America, that individual, the statistics are people that meet criteria for hospitalization from an eating disorder so the drive for thinness and the emphasis on thinness is still very problematic.”
If you suspect someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, it is important to get them evaluated as soon as possible.
Chaffee says, “Evaluated doesn’t always mean necessarily taking them to the doctor and getting blood work done because blood work is usually always within normal limits you really need somebody that specializes in eating disorders to really kind of identify that.”