National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is a federally recognized health observance holiday in late February and early March. Its purpose is to educate the public on eating disorders and their impact, while also promoting resources and support for those currently suffering from an eating disorder. This year, it is being celebrated Feb. 26–March 3.  

Eating disorders are serious illnesses formed by genetic, biological, environmental and social factors and characterized by severe and persistent disturbances in a person’s eating behaviors and associated distressing thoughts. The most common are binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and pica, but there are many others, such as ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) and orthorexia; the latter is still unrecognized in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), which has garnered much pushback from eating disorder awareness communities.  

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), eating disorders have the second-highest mortality rate of any mental illness but receive far less federal funding for research than other mental and physical illnesses. Nine percent of the U.S. population, which is over 28 million people, will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives, and only $0.73 is allocated to research per individual diagnosed.  

The NCAA recognizes that athletes are at a higher risk for eating disorders, especially those in sports that are stereotyped as preferring “thin” or “lean” bodies, such as distance running or figure skating. Body ideals can be pushed by coaches, trainers and spectators. According to a 2018 study from the Journal of Clinical Sports Psychology, up to 45% of female athletes and 19% of male athletes have struggled or currently struggle with an eating disorder. 

For more information about National Eating Disorders Awareness Week and for resources for yourself or a loved one, please visit NEDA’s website: