Spotlight on Eating Disorders & NEDA Week

What is NEDA week?

National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) week serves the purpose of educating the public about eating disorders in a way that provides visibility, support, and hope to those impacted by eating disorders. This year, NEDA week spans from February 21-27, 2022.

What are eating disorders?

As defined by the American Psychiatric Association, eating disorders are “behavioral conditions characterized by severe and persistent disturbance in eating behaviors and associated distressing thoughts and emotions” that can be “very serious conditions affecting physical, psychological and social function” (2021). The diagnostic statistical manual recognizes the following eating disorders which entail their own specific criteria: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, other specified feeding and eating disorder, pica, and rumination disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

It is estimated that around 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives (NEDA, 2021). Research and academic pursuits to identify reasons behind eating disorders suggest a combination of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors that contribute to their development. Identified biological risk factors include having a close relative with an eating disorder or mental health condition, history of dieting, having a negative energy balance (burning more calories than you take in), and type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes; identified psychological risk factors include perfectionism, body image dissatisfaction, personal history of an anxiety disorder, and behavioral inflexibility; identified sociocultural risk factors include weight stigma, teasing or bullying, acculturation to Westernized culture (which emphasizes strict body image ideals), limited social networks, and historical of trauma (NEDA, 2018).

How to help.

Because of the ways in which eating disorders can greatly affect individuals’ lives, it is critical to be connected with professional support in the form of mental health professionals and other health professionals. Psychiatrists and psychotherapists can provide medication management services as well as psychotherapeutic support. Seeing a registered dietitian can also be helpful in providing education on meal planning and nutrition in a safe, healthy way. Because many eating disorders also impact dental health, scheduling dental checkups is also recommended. Having parents or other family members actively involved in treatment can be helpful as well, especially for young individuals still living at home. There may be times when a medical professional may suggest inpatient treatment centers for those struggling with eating disorders.

Accessing helplines are a quick and easy way to access immediate help. Through the National Eating Disorder Association’s helplines, individuals have the options of online chat, call, or text.

Online Resources


American Psychiatric Association. (2021). What are eating disorders? Retrieved December 2, 2021, from

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

National Eating Disorders Association. (2021). NEDA. Retrieved December 2, 2021, from

National Eating Disorders Association. (2018). Risk factors. Retrieved December 2, 2021, from