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Eating disorders occur in 9% or more of the population in the United States, which is more than 28 million Americans.

With statistics showing that eating disorders are on the rise globally, National Eating Disorders Week is an important time to raise public awareness and increase community knowledge about these painful and difficult mental health conditions.

History of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Since 1984, Eating Disorders Awareness Week has taken place annually with the purpose of increasing public awareness – and decreasing stigma – about the struggles faced and the support needed by those who have eating disorders.

The National Anorexic Aid Society launched the event in the state of Ohio in 1984, and by 1987, a plan was made to make it a national event.

During this same period, about forty participants from all around the United States, Canada, and the UK collectively worked to build this event out on an international scale.

Just a few years later, in 1990, US President George H.W. Bush made it official on a federal level, declaring National Eating Disorders Awareness Week through presidential proclamation.

In the more than three decades since its founding, National Eating Disorders Awareness Week has been promoted and encouraged through various avenues, including medical practitioners, counselors, social care networks, charitable organizations, and individuals with eating disorders.

How to Observe National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Host an Eating Disorders Awareness Week Event

Schools, health care centers, youth centers, non-profit organizations, and other groups dedicated to this cause might consider hosting an event in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

This could include educational seminars, open houses, medical screenings, counseling, and more. The National Institute of Mental Health offers a digital toolkit to help with observing this event.

Understand Important Facts About Eating Disorders

Just like with many mental health issues, eating disorders are often misunderstood. This can create difficulty when family members, friends, and others in a support network don’t know enough to be able to respond well.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is a good time to brush up on some basic facts about eating disorders, perhaps choosing to share them with others to raise awareness.

Do some online research, talk with a medical professional about it, or start with some of these facts:

  • Eating disorders affect both men and women
  • Eating disorders are serious problems that may become life-threatening
  • Of all mental illnesses, eating disorders have the highest risk of death
  • Treatment for eating disorders can be effective, and recovery is possible

Join the Eating Disorders Awareness Lighting Campaign

Many buildings and monuments in cities across the US will participate in National Eating Disorders Awareness Week by lighting up green and blue.

From the Niagara Falls in New York State to the Miami Tower in Florida, from the Wrigley Building in Chicago to a tower in Anchorage, Alaska, businesses and organizations will show support for this challenging mental health issue.

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