It is here again NEDAwareness week! As a person officially diagnosed with an Eating Disorder in 2011 (but exhibiting symptoms since as early as 1996), I have quickly discovered the disparities of awareness, research funding, and general education on Eating Disorders compared to other known diseases. Many insurance companies refuse to pay for services for Eating Disordered people. Imagine that, an insurance company refusing to cover the cost of treatment for a disease that has the capacity to kill the patient. What kind of a world do we live in when an insurance company has the right to deny payment for services that can save lives? I feel that this can no longer continue. By speaking out and standing up for myself and those who have Eating Disorders, I believe that we can draw more attention to these disparities as a way to gain the support, tools, resources, funding, education and awareness that we need to combat this disease.
In researching statistics to include in this post, I was shocked to say the least. Below is a small table of information (from trusted sources, see bottom) to represent my findings.
|Disease||Number affected in US||2011 NIH funding overall*||2011 NIH funding per individual|
|Eating Disorders||30 Million||$27 million||93 ₵93 CENTS!!!!|
|Alzheimer’s Disease||5.4 million||$448 million||$88|
|Schizophrenia||2.2 million||$264 million||$81|
|Autism||2 million||$169 million||$44|
*2011 National Institutes of Health numbers used as they are the last year for which complete statistics are available
Some other NIH statistics I found interesting (based on 2012 estimated funding)
-Breast Cancer alone receives $280 million in NIH funding
-Obesity receives $829 million in NIH funding
-Anthrax receives $87 million in NIH funding (60 million more than EDs)
-Lyme Disease receives $28 million in NIH funding
So, out of Alzheimers, Schizophrenia and Autism…Eating Disorders affect THREE TIMES more than those diseases…COMBINED! Yet it receives the least amount of funding out of the three. Even Lyme Disease and Anthrax receive more NIH funding than Eating Disorders. When broken down into NIH funding per individual, those with Eating Disorders receive less than a DOLLAR each—a dollar. To put that into perspective, I found a dollar under a car in a parking lot last night as I was teaching my little sister to drive. That is the dollar that the NIH would have spent on funding research for me. Currently, at the Kroger in Cincinnati, I can buy a half a gallon of milk for 97 cents. That is more than the amount NIH would have spent on funding for me.
In continuing to look at ED statistics, I turned to the website of the National Eating Disorders Association. This is what I found:
-Cases of diagnosed Eating Disorders have risen every year since the 1950’s
-The rates of Bulimia Nervosa in 10-39 year old individuals tripled between 1988 and 1993
-81% of 10 year olds are afraid of becoming fat
-Mortality rates for those diagnosed are: Anorexia Nervosa at 4%, Bulimia Nervosa at 3.9%, and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified at 5.2%
But, there is a bright side to all of these alarming statistics.
The National Eating Disorders Association is working to raise awareness, funding, education, access to medical professionals, and provides many resources to those with the disease, family members, loved ones, educators, coaches, etc. Last year alone, NEDAwarness week reached over 70 million people with their message of hope, help and recovery. I hope this year’s NEDAwareness week is able to impact even more people.
Below are some resources that I have found helpful in my journey towards recovery and would like to pass on to all those who could use it:
-NEDA helpline 1800-931-2237
-NEDA helpline via the chat feature: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/find-help-support
-NEDA support groups available in NYC: email firstname.lastname@example.org
-NEDA has a list of support groups and research studies in your area: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/support-groups-research-studies
LindnerCenter of Hope: http://lindnercenterofhope.org/
Something Fishy: http://www.something-fishy.org/
MentorCONNECT: http://www.mentorconnect-edforums.org (provides mentorship and a community of support from fellow ED warriors)
Remember, YOU are worthy of recovery. YOU are stronger than ED. YOU deserve to love and be loved. YOU are a precious child of God. YOU have the right to be healthy. YOU are so worthy of life. Stay strong and keep fighting!
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”