February is recognized as Eating Disorder Awareness Month in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The goal: getting the word out about the nature of eating disorders, their prevalence, and what they mean for those suffering from the disorders, and those who know someone suffering from an eating disorder.
Anorexia, a relentless fear of gaining weight leading to the restriction of food consumption and a morphed body image, and bulimia, the consumption of food followed by the almost immediate purging of food, affect roughly ten million women and one million men in the United States. Millions of others suffer from a binge eating disorder, compulsive overeating, as well.
Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other online mass media sources are participating in Eating Disorder Awareness Month. The National Eating Disorder Association focuses on Eating Disorder Awareness Week: February 24 through March 2, 2013, with the theme “Everybody Knows Somebody.” The campaign aims at reducing the stigma that surrounds eating disorders in an effort to spread awareness of the various eating disorders and to prevent further cases from developing.
Volunteers, eating disorder professionals, healthcare professionals, social workers, and those affected by the suffering of an eating disorder, either personally or through the experience of a loved one, gather to distribute pamphlets and put up posters to make others aware of Eating Disorder Awareness Month, and week. Anyone who wants to can participate in the activities, which include panel discussions, yoga and meditation practices, fashion shows, movie screenings, art exhibitions, and other activities that get people together.
The National Institute on Mental Health believes that anorexia is the most fatal mental disorder, so awareness to the signs of an unhealthy relationship with one’s body or with food is important. Spreading information on the signs of a potential eating disorders can keep parents, educators, friends, and other family members informed and mindful of symptoms in the young people who are regularly around them to help treat any eating disorder behavior or diagnosis.