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How eating disorders are affecting Americans

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 5:59 PM EDT
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(WBNG) -- March marks the start of National Nutrition Month, but according to John Hopkins Medicine, as many as 30 million Americans struggle with eating disorders.

They state eating disorders remain the mental illness with the highest risk of death.

Binghamton University’s Lecturer of Health and Wellness Studies Sarah Thompson told 12 News access to social media has increased feelings of negative self-image and projects distorted views of what is healthy.

“A lot of those images that they’re constantly seeing and ideas about diet, about exercise, about body ideals are really hard,” said Thompson.

She explained eating disorders don’t discriminate and can affect anyone of any age, gender or ethnicity.

Nutrition Counselor Stephanie Bostic said those who go underdiagnosed the most include adults, men, non-white, and people who are not physically deemed to be underweight.

“Their primary care providers are like, ‘oh hey, you need to lose 30 pounds,’” said Bostic. “But when they come to me, I see they’re only eating 700 calories.”

Bostic told 12 News the road to recovery is not an easy one and weight stigma still plays a huge role in body image today.

“There’s a lot of fear involved in the process, it can be very emotionally challenging,” Bostic said.

Nutrition experts urge individuals to become more conscious of the preconceived notions they hold about weight and body image and how their words can effect others.

“Create a language for our society that doesn’t emphasize body shape or body ideal as healthy,” Thompson told 12 News.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder there are a variety of resources available including the NEDA helpline at 1 (800) 931-2237, as well as three regional centers in New York-listed below.

Eating Disorders Recovery Center of Western New York - The Place for Hope, Help, and Healing: 1-800-700-4673

Northeast Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders (NECCCED):1-888-747-4727

The Metropolitan Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders (Metro NYCCCED): 1-877-669-2332