In a world of cause marketing and aggressive campaign promotion, it can sometimes feel as though every week or month is devoted to some kind of “awareness.” However, I urge you to acknowledge National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW), which is taking place this week (February 25 through March 2). Each year during the last week of February, individuals of all walks of life touched by eating disorders—including men, women and children currently struggling with these illnesses, those living a life of recovery, friends and loved ones, as well as professionals specializing in eating disorders treatment—come together to raise awareness about these complex illnesses, which are estimated to affect tens of millions of Americans.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), in the United States alone, 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). The enormity and far-reaching implications of this statistic are perhaps what laid the foundation for the theme of this year’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: “Everybody Knows Somebody.” Whether it be a close friend, colleague, relative or just an acquaintance, everyone probably knows at least one of these 30+ million individuals who are currently struggling with or have recovered from some form of an eating disorder.
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week seeks to educate Americans about eating disorders, reduce the stigma surrounding these illnesses and improve access to treatment resources. Year after year, these efforts are becoming increasingly prevalent and powerful. In fact, NEDA reports that last year’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week helped to nearly double traffic to its eating disorders helpline. Additionally, NEDAW 2012 provided a critical platform through which eating disorders experts were able to educate our nation’s leaders about these illnesses at the Bi-Partisan National Eating Disorders Awareness Caucus on February 27, 2012, on Capitol Hill.
While National Eating Disorders Awareness Week offers individuals from all walks of life an opportunity to learn about these illnesses and prevention efforts, the concept encourages participants to continue to raise eating disorders awareness throughout the entire year and perhaps even serve as an eating disorders resource for friends or loved ones who may be facing disordered eating or body image issues. Participating in National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2013 is simple—just visit the websites of eating disorders treatment centers or non-profit organizations in your area to learn about community events, or visit the NEDA website for information about how to get involved.
Several organizations are using National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2013 as a platform to promote accurate and important information about eating disorders, and move these illnesses to the forefront of the public consciousness. Below is a list of events in which Eating Recovery Center, The Moore Center and Summit Eating Disorders Outreach Program are participating:
- National Eating Disorders Association Walk, hosted by The Eating Disorder Network of Central Florida; Sunday, February 24, Orlando, Fla.
- Mind and Body Fair, hosted by the University of Northern Colorado’s Women’s Resource Center; Monday, February 25, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Greeley, Colo.
- Eating Recovery Center Patient Artwork Exhibit; February 25-March 1, Eating Recovery Center lobby, 1830 Franklin Street, Denver, Colo.
- Eating Recovery Center Patient Artwork Exhibition Reception; Thursday, February 28, 5:30-7:00 p.m., Eating Recovery Center lobby, 1830 Franklin Street, Denver, Colo.
- Amber Sokoll, MA, NCC, RYT, speaking at Beyond the Mirror’s professional networking event; Tuesday, February 26, Fort Collins, Colo.
- Jennifer Lombardi, MFT, speaking at the Celebrate Your Body Week event, hosted by the University of California Davis; Wednesday, February 27, Davis, Calif.
- Jennifer Lombardi, MFT, speaking at the Love Your Body event, hosted by California State University Sacramento; Thursday, February 28, Sacramento, Calif.
- Celebrity Dance Challenge, hosted by the Eating Disorders Information Network; Thursday, February 28, Atlanta, Ga.
- Jen Sommer, RD, speaking at Eating Disorders Coalition of Iowa event; Saturday, March 2, Des Moines, Iowa.
- National Eating Disorders Association Walk, hosted by the University of Nevada Reno; Saturday, March 2, Reno, Nev.
- Binge Eating Disorder Workshop, hosted by The Moore Center; Saturday, March 2, Bellevue, Wash.
“Like” or tweet this article to share and show your support for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Additionally, use the “hashtag” #NEDAwareness to see what everyone else is saying about this important annual event.