February 10, 2012
Suffolk Health Officials Observe National Eating Disorder Awareness Week
February 26 through March 3, 2012
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ Division of Preventive Medicine, in its continuing efforts to promote good health practices among the population, asks residents to recognize the signs of eating disorders. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, as many as ten million females and one million males in the U.S. are battling eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Approximately 25 million more are struggling with binge eating. Millions practice disordered eating due to an obsession with dieting.
Dr. Tomarken, Commissioner of Health Services, reported that while recovery is possible, especially with early intervention, many people suffer from long-term effects of these illnesses. Left untreated, eating disorders may cause heart and kidney failure, gastric and esophageal ulcers, pancreatitis, type II diabetes, gallbladder disease and osteoporosis.
According to Dr. Tomarken, “The most important thing anyone can do for a person with an eating disorder is to encourage treatment. The longer an eating disorder remains undiagnosed and untreated, the harder it is on the body and the more difficult recovery becomes.”
Signs of eating disorders include:
- Preoccupation with body or weight
- Obsession with calories, food, or nutrition
- Constant dieting, even when thin
- Rapid, unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Taking laxatives or diet pills as a means to purge
- Compulsive exercising
- Making excuses to get out of eating
- Avoiding social situations that involve food
- Going to the bathroom right after meals (to purge)
- Eating alone, at night, or in secret
- Hoarding high-calorie food
The road to eating disorders begins with body dissatisfaction and dieting. To improve overall health attitudes and behaviors among young people, health educators from the Division of Preventive Medicine’s Office of Health Education are available to work with school districts in implementing a comprehensive health education curriculum. This curriculum addresses self-esteem issues which may lead to disordered eating. The county’s health education services are free of charge to Suffolk County schools.
For more information about eating disorders, visit the National Eating Disorders Association’s website: www.NationalEatingDisorders.org.
CONTACT: Grace Kelly-McGovern