Monday, July 1, 2013

Are Eating Disorders Becoming an Epidemic!?

If you're reading this, you're probably a teen. And if you're a teen, there's a high chance you know someone with an eating disorder.

Eating disorders have turned into a kind of silent epidemic. When talking about epidemics, one statistic used is the R-naught, or the average number of people an infected person will spread the virus too. Eating disorders have no one R-naught because they don't spread through sneezes or through blood. They are ideas.
Unfortunately, the time has come for this idea. In this digital fast age, a lot is expected of people, especially adolescents. In the rush to go to their (or their parent's) college of choice, do sports, hang out with friends, and possibly pursue a relationship, adolescents can feel like they have no control, and many view controlling their eating as a means to gain control over their life. This often has the side effect of making the person thin, something which is prized in our society. The R-naught of a celebrity developing an eating disorder is potentially hundreds to thousands, which is why the epidemic is so hard to stop. But there is hope.

Now you, the reader, may be thinking "What can I do? I'm just one person." But you can start with the people you know. A common misconception is that eating disorders only occur because of a desire to be thin: while this is true in some cases, a lot of the time they occur due to the previously cited issue with control or lack there of. One can look at it in the lens of a cry for help, like self-harm or substance abuse. Many times, those with eating disorders feel alone in a rapidly shifting world, like a person sitting in the eye of a hurricane. So in these cases, the best thing to do is just talk to them, or even just listen. That could make a world of difference.

Feel free to call Teen Link to talk to somebody about these issues. 1-866-TEENLINK (883-6546). We're open every night, 6-10. It is a non judgmental and anonymous lines answered by teens, so it can be very helpful.

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