Utah observes "National Eating Disorder Awareness Week"

A negative self-image, often involving diet or weight loss, can spiral out of control to become an eating disorder. It's "National Eating Disorder Awareness Week." Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services.

SALT LAKE CITY – An awareness campaign under way in Utah and nationwide this week draws attention to a potentially deadly health threat that will affect one in 10 Americans during their lifetimes.

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week sheds light on illnesses that are treatable but often go untreated because those suffering with them feel ashamed, said Samantha Hope, co-founder of Project HEAL’s Utah chapter.

“So many people do suffer, but the majority of the people suffer in silence,” she said. “They don’t want to share that with people. I think that comes along with the stigma of eating disorders; everybody looks at it as just a mental illness.”

The major eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating, she said, adding that the core causes are linked to dieting, traumatic life experiences and having a negative self-image. Men make up about about one-third of people with eating disorders.

Hope said a big part of effective prevention and treatment involves improving how people view themselves. She also is recovering from an eating disorder that struck in her 30s, she said, when many aspects of her life were out of control.

“I could control that aspect of my life, of what I was feeding myself and not feeding myself,” she said. “And I felt like I had control there, where in other aspects I didn’t feel like I had any control.”

She said Project HEAL helps to raise money to fund eating-disorder treatment and works throughout the state to raise awareness. The National Eating Disorders Association also offers assistance through its help line, at 1-800-931-2237.

More information is online at <a href=”http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/” target=”parent”>nationaleatingdisorders.org</a>.

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