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Avera Medical Minute: Spreading awareness about eating disorders

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Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 10:37 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Experts say 30 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime.

Alexandra Todd spoke with an Avera counselor and dietitian about the warning signs to look out for and what kind of help is available.

Alexandra Todd: Can you just shed some light on why it is so important to talk about this issue?

Mary Dressing: Yes, each year we celebrate awareness about eating disorders, and this year was especially awesome because the proclamation was made out of the White House declaring it National Eating Disorder Awareness Week which hasn’t happened in three decades so pretty exciting.

Mary: It’s so important because we need to have people become aware that there is help out there for those struggling with an eating disorder or just even learn more about it so we can prevent eating disorders from becoming a real problem.

Alexandra: What are some signs someone can look out for?

Mary: They really vary, sometimes it’s pretty difficult to even pick up on. Sometimes people will lose weight like people struggling with anorexia. You might notice that their personality seems a little bit off, maybe they lost weight, maybe they’re withdrawn and not as engaged like maybe they use to be, making excuses not to join friends or skipping family events things like that.

Mary: Often times they may prioritize their time differently, so, going to the gym before meeting up with a group of friends or trying to find excuses why they can’t join a group of people.

Alexandra: How can one possibly help someone who is struggling, are there any things you can do?

Mary: I usually encourage people if they suspect something is going on, to take that person aside privately and share with them their concerns. I’m seeing a trend downward in age, so younger and younger kids are being exposed to eating disorders, that’s disturbing because their brains are developing their bodies, their skeletal frames are being compromised.

Mary: Eating disorders are treatable. And that the sooner you get help the quicker you get into recovery. The longer it goes on, the more entrenched it becomes in your brain and behaviors, and so it’s a lot more difficult to extract this and get on with your life. It definitely alters people’s lives and not in a positive way.

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