Obesity - and EDs

I realize that obesity is a problem - children younger and younger are experiencing problems with their weight. Obesity is a major issue, as there are serious health complications that can occur )hypertension, heart attacks, reproductive issues, joint problems, etc).

But would it not be interesting to see an article or news story about how eating disorders are also on the rise? The past few days have been full of news stories about obesity and how it is constantly increasing, as well as the burden on the healthcare system, the health problems associated with overweight, etc. And it IS a problem. As a nurse, I see many people who are struggling with excess weight. And they need help - even medical attention. They have the right to get treatment or help as they require it.

I just wish people were more aware about EDs as well. EDs, like obesity, have serious health implications as well. Osteoporosis, heart attacks, fainting attacks, decreased immunity, and even death. But we do not see too many news stories telling us about EDs and how they can kill. Or how they can land someone in the hospital for days, even months. And the victim may never make it through to see another day. Why does the media not focus on EDs like obesity?

For one thing, the number of obese people outnumber those with eating disorders - at least, that is what the statistics say. But it is quite easy to see someone who is overweight and to know that they are. But someone may have an ED and you might never know - they might hide their weight, or they might not even be deathly skinny. So, technically speaking, there are many people with EDs who are we unaware of.

Next, let's look at the media. There are commercials for weight loss, excercise programs, low-fat foods, etc. When was the last time you saw an ad telling people to appreciate their bodies and eat all things in moderation? Very rarely. So, the media and society in general tend to focus on obesity and weight loss, not loving your body and staying healthy. So, when the news comes out that obesity is on the rise, it is easy to find a link between this and society: low fat foods, weight loss diets, excercise programs, etc. Society makes it seem that even though you are overweight, there are always solutions. Go on a diet. Excercise. Buy the low-fat foods. There is always a solutuon. But what about for ED treatment? Have you ever seen a commercial telling people to be careful with diets because it can lead to ED? Or to enjoy eating all foods because restricting can cause EDs? I think not.

The problem, really, is with society. We need to realize that BOTH extremes of the weight spectrum are not good. Like all things, too much OR too little is not good. Moderation - the middle - is the best. We need to raise awareness that like obesity, EDs are a problem. And both these groups deserve to get help, treatment, or whatever the support they need on their journey towards health.

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