Eating disorders awareness Eating disorders are complex illnesses that can have serious effects on health. They can affect people of all genders, sexual orientations, racial and ethnic backgrounds, sizes and shapes. About 9% of Arizonans will have an eating disorder in their lifetimes. Prevention, early screening, and treatment are important, and full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. 

This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week, an annual campaign to inform the public about the realities of eating disorders and to provide hope, support, and visibility to people and families affected by eating disorders.

There is no single cause of eating disorders, but some risk factors include a history of dieting, being unhappy with one’s body image, bullying about weight and looks, and being treated worse based on weight and size. 

Disordered weight control and eating behaviors have a negative impact on health, decrease quality of life, and can lead to an eating disorder. Common disordered eating behaviors include frequent dieting, feelings of guilt or shame around eating, and being overly worried about food, weight, and your looks. 

Teen years and young adulthood are high-risk times for developing an eating disorder. In the U.S., about one-third of teens are teased about their weight. In Arizona, 29% of high school students (44% of female students) report using unhealthy ways to control their weight, including not eating for 24 hours or more; taking diet pills; powders, or liquids; vomiting or taking laxatives; smoking cigarettes; or skipping meals. 

Health professionals, communities, and individuals can help prevent eating disorders and unhealthy weight control behaviors by supporting positive relationships with food, movement and activity, and body image. 

Here are resources to help you learn more about eating disorders

Here are resources for health professionals: