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Eating disorders can have terrible consequences

The disease – mostly affecting females – can strike at any age
By: Carol Feineman News Messenger Editor
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Eating disorders are on the rise, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. “Up to 24 million people in the United States have eating disorders, which includes anorexia, binge eating and bulimia,” said Susie Roman, the association’s program director. “Eating disorders remain alarmingly high. The rate of the development of new cases has been increasing since 1950.” Eating disorders also have a high mortality rate. A National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders study found that five to 10 percent of anorexics die within 10 years after the disease’s onset; 18 to 20 percent of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 to 40 percent fully recover. “Eating disorders are the most deadly of mental illnesses,” Roman said. “But with treatment, people do recover. Faith can be part of people’s recovery but we direct people to doctors and therapists who specialize in eating disorders.” If left untreated, eating disorders can damage the brain, liver, kidneys, GI tract, teeth, skin, hair, bones and heart, according to Roman. The disease can also result in medical conditions such as osteoporosis, kidney problems, ulcers and heart failure. Treatment can be hard for those with eating disorders. “It’s very difficult for someone with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are very complex conditions with a biological basis and also environmental, social, psychological factors,” Roman said. “For some people, it’s quite difficult to admit they have a problem because of stigma and shame so it’s hard for them to reach out for help. It is a serious biologically based mental disorder.” In the Sacramento area, one treatment provider has seen a climb in clientele. Summit Eating Disorders and Outreach Program in Sacramento is opening up two satellite facilities to meet a growing caseload. “In our different levels of care (in Sacramento), we have at any point in time 60 patients. In our seven-day program, we have 20 to 22 patients from age 11 to 60,” said Jennifer Lombardi, MFT, Summit’s chief admissions officer. Summit’s Roseville branch on East Roseville Parkway opens May 1 and Summit will open a Fresno branch that same month, according to Lombardi. “We’re getting more referrals from the Lincoln, Rocklin, Roseville, Auburn area,” Lombardi said. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen an increase in teenagers and adolescents from that area.” The Roseville branch will offer intensive outpatient care and outpatient individual therapy. The disease, while predominately affecting females, can strike at any age. “Those at risk are folks who have anxiety or depression, or family history,” Lombardi said, “or have certain personality traits such as conflict or harm avoidance (folks who tend to have a difficult time with change or conflict). The disease also affects those who tend to be high achievers and sometimes perfectionist and/or people pleasing.” What can family and friends do to help those suffering? “First and foremost, educate yourselves on the illness and understand this is life-threatening, not just a phase,” Lombardi said. “Second, speak directly to your loved one about your concern and be specific. Encourage them to seek a thorough assessment from someone who specializes in eating disorders.” The Western Placer Unified School District’s nurse, Betty Boram, has not seen many students with eating disorders. “I would say that it’s actually fairly low but there are some students, more from the upper middle school to high school,” Boram said. Boram stressed that her statements are “off the top of my head and not factual.” With one nurse to 3,300-plus students, Boram said she is “bouncing around and they don’t think of nurses” when someone appears to have an eating disorder. Eating Disorder Statistics PREVALENCE • It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men • One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia. Two to three in 100 American women suffers from bulimia. • Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder. (One in five Americans suffers from mental illnesses.) • An estimated 10 to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are males. MORTALITY RATES • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness • A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that five to 10 percent of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18 to 20 percent of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 to 40 percent ever fully recover • The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of all causes of death for females 15 to 24 –years-old. 20 percent of those suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems. ACCESS TO TREATMENT • Only 1 in 10 people with eating disorders receive treatment. • About 80 percent of the girls/women who have accessed care for their eating disorders do not get the intensity of treatment they need to stay in recovery – they are often sent home weeks earlier than the recommended stay. • Treatment of an eating disorder in the United States ranges from $500 per day to $2,000 per day. The average cost for a month of inpatient treatment is $30,000. It is estimated that individuals with eating disorders need anywhere from three to six months of inpatient care. ADOLESCENTS • Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents • 95 percent of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25 • 50 percent of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight From South Carolina Department of Mental Health website Eating disorders defined Eating disorders are a group of serious conditions in which you’re so preoccupied with food and weight that you can often focus on little else. The main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. Courtesy Mayo Clinic