Eating Disorders are complex medical and psychiatric illnesses that present with obsession in food, body image and/or weight. Up to 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder) with binge eating being the most common. It is estimated that eating disorders affects 10-20% of female university students and 4-10% of male university students. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
As in most illnesses, early detection and intervention is crucial in saving lives and enhancing quality of living. Warning signs include:
Being primarily concerned and preoccupied with food control or weight loss
Evidence of binge eating or consumption of large amount of food
Evidence of purging (vomiting, laxative agents, diuretic agents)
Withdrawal from normal social activities.
If you know someone exhibiting these warning signs, do NOT ignore, but rather talk openly and honestly about it. Listen to them, express your support and refer them to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.