In April, a group of representatives from 13 eating disorder advocacy groups and professional organizations sat around a table in Boston. A group comprised of professionals, caregivers and patients sat around this table, eating lunch, and talking about points of connection and how best to work together in service. The starting point, it was decided, would be the basics, identifying a clear and unified message that all agreed upon.
This is important. Very important. A unified message based on current scientific knowledge about a group of illnesses that has been poorly understood for so long. This is so beneficial for families. It is a new baseline. It is a place where families can start and it can inform what they ask for and what they can expect.
To all those at the table: It was an extraordinary effort and the mutual respect was palpable.
Here are the basics.....Nine Truths (pdf for printing):
Truth #1: Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.
Truth #2: Families are not to blame, and can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.
Truth #3: An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.
Truth #4: Eating disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.
Truth #5: Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.
Truth #6: Eating disorders carry an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications.
Truth #7: Genes and environment play important roles in the development of eating disorders.
Truth #8: Genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders.
Truth #9: Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Early detection and intervention are important.
*The Nine Truths About Eating Disorders is produced in collaboration with Cynthia Bulik PhD, FAED, Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders in the Medical School of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, based on her 9 Eating Disorders Myths Busted talk at the National Institute on Mental Health in 2014.