World Eating Disorders Action Day

Today, June 2, 2016, is the first ever World Eating Disorders Action Day. Today eating disorder activists, professionals, parents and family members, and those personally affected from 40+ countries across the globe unite to promote worldwide knowledge of eating disorders and the need for comprehensive treatment.

The Big Picture
Eating disorders affect 70 million individuals worldwide and up to 30 million individuals in the United States alone. This insidious, life-threatening illness affects people of all ages — diagnosis occurs in children as young as six years old and in elderly men and women. We know now that eating disorders occur in both genders and do not discriminate based on sexual orientation. They affect people of all shapes & sizes. And eating disorders occur at similar rates across nationalities & ethnicities and at all levels of socioeconomic status. Not one of us is safe. Not one.

Eating disorders are misunderstood, under-diagnosed, and under-treated. Despite the toll eating disorders have taken on individuals and families worldwide and the increasing number of diagnoses and deaths each day, efforts to combat this illness are grossly under-supported and under-funded.

It’s time to take action.

We join together today, on World Eating Disorders Action Day, to send a powerful message to policymakers across the world.  We stand hand-in-hand to advance the understanding of eating disorders as treatable, genetically-linked illnesses; to silence myths, to end stigma, and to embrace the diversity of this illness; to open policymakers’ eyes to the need to support and allocate resources to increase early intervention with evidence based treatment access to care; and to advocate for change at an international level.

The Nine Goals: Taking Action Against Eating Disorders
The following are nine goals to be presented to and acted upon by policymakers and governments, urging them to take action, to address the growing epidemic of eating disorders across the globe.

  1. We call for all front-line providers (including pediatricians, primary care doctors, dentists, emergency room and school health providers) to be educated in the identification, diagnosis, and referral to appropriate services of eating disorders.
  2. We call for accessible and affordable evidence-based treatment, with early diagnosis and intervention a priority.
  3. We call for public education about eating disorders to be accurate, research based, readily available, and geared to end stigma about eating disorders.
  4. We call for an end to mandatory weighing and BMI screening in schools, and development of evidence-based health programs.
  5. We call for increased awareness of diversity in eating disorders, as eating disorders affect a wide cross-section of the world’s population, including people of all ages, sizes, weights, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, nationalities, and documentation status.
  6. We call for community and family eating disorders treatment support programs to be available for all.
  7. We call for research-based interventions to be delivered in schools and universities on the facts about eating disorders and how peers and staff can best support patients and families during treatment.
  8. We call for government agencies to include eating disorders services as part of health systems, public education campaigns, and regulatory bodies.
  9. We call for the World Health Assembly and the World Health Organization to formally recognize June 2 as World Eating Disorders Action Day.

The Nine Truths About Eating Disorders
One important step in combating the epidemic of eating disorders is to debunk widespread myths about the illness. This is where YOU come in. Click here to view The Nine Truths About Eating Disorders, a collaborative effort by the Academy for Eating Disorders and leading eating disorders experts, and the short video created by the cast of the upcoming film To the Bone, starring Keanu Reeves.

The Pledge
Then click here to take the pledge to commit to breaking down stigma by sharing the Nine Truths About Eating Disorders and the World Eating Disorders Action Day key messages with others.

By Jessica Betts, MS, RD, LD
REbeL Program Director