Thursday, March 13, 2008

Binge Eating Disorder

You never know who you are going to run into when you are out and about, or do you? Maybe we are meant to meet certain people to fulfill our purpose. It sure is a wonderful thing to find others who are out there with a similar mission of empowering people. When I was at Eden Prairie High School speaking about Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention I was fortunate enough to get to hear some speakers who are members of O.A. (Overeaters Anonymous) and it was so great to hear their stories of recovery. I love to hear these stories so that I can share them with the sufferers and their families who call me with such hopelessness. I wasn't familiar with O.A. and I am thrilled as usual when I hear of another potential resource to share with people when they call me for Eating Disorder Treatment needs. I heard them share the incidence of Binge Eating Disorder and I wasn't surprised when they stated that it is the eating disorder with the most sufferers. The statistics I looked at were from three sources:
  1. NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) : 10 million Females and 1 million Males fighting AN(Anorexia) and BN (Bulimia Nervosa). While 25 million struggle with B.E.D. (Binge Eating Disorder).
  2. ANRED (Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc.):1%-2% Women struggle with BED or 1-2 million adults.
  3. EDC (Eating Disorders Coalition): AN - .3-1% of young Women, BN - 1-3% Young Women, BED - 3% of population.
So really no matter how you slice it the incidence of BED (Binge Eating Disorder) is much higher than either AN or BN which I think surprises a lot of people. For up until very recently most treatment programs didn't even include treatment for binge eating disorder. What's up with that? Makes my cynical (for good reason) mind think that the insurance companies have something to do with this. Yes, big scary insurance companies, if you are reading this, let's talk. I have spoken to so many people who are fighting for their lives and part of the problem is lack of coverage so you really don't want to get me started here. I suspect another reason that BED has been overlooked is partially due to the stigma. So much of the problem with getting people treatment is that this is a mental illness and in the US that has stigma unfortunately. Another piece of the puzzle, I suspect, is the low self esteem that is present for so many sufferers. It is hard to get yourself help when you don't feel empowered or loved even by yourself.

Which brings me to the cool person I encountered today (wasn't by accident either, I planned to go hear her speak), Ann Bancroft! What a treat that was, she is so inspiring. She is all about empowering women to believe in themselves and their dreams. She encourages women to Dare to Dream through the Ann Bancroft Foundation. I told them I will support their foundation as I truly believe in what they are doing to empower women. And empowering women seems to me to be vital in helping to both prevent and treat eating disorders.

Thanks for reading and pondering. The more people talk about this deadly disorder the more we will help to de-stigmatize it.