By: Elisa Klein, MSW, MPH
Date: July 7, 2015
When you work in the field of eating disorders, you get lots of questions from the outside world about the disorders. I learned this the hard way when I joined the team at the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders. Suddenly, my friends and family had tons of questions, and even more assumptions, about what it must be like working with people with these illnesses.
The Academy for Eating Disorders, in collaboration with other major eating disorder associations, recently shared their 9 Truths about Eating Disorders. These statements, which are based on Dr. Cynthia Bulik’s “9 Eating Disorder Myths Busted1” provide clear, concise, and evidence-based information about the disorders, their causes, and their treatments.
The next time you are confronted with questions and assumptions about people struggling with eating disorders, remember these truths:
Truth #1: Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.
Truth #2: Families are not to blame, and can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.
Truth #3: An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.
Truth #4: Eating disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.
Truth #5: Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.
Truth #6: Eating disorders carry an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications.
Truth #7: Genes and environment play important roles in the development of eating disorders.
Truth #8: Genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders.
Truth #9: Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Early detection and intervention are important.
The 9 Truths have been translated into Spanish, Norwegian, Estonian, German, Swedish, and Finnish with Russian on the way and you can find the translations here.
We don’t yet have all the answers about why and how people develop eating disorders. But by sharing these truths, we can work to reduce the stigma faced by those who suffer from them and hopefully connect people to treatment sooner. And that’s the truth!