Eating Disorders increasing during the Pandemic

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – Eating disorders are considered a mental illness- one  that is tough to notice and often comes in different forms. 

In Chattanooga, a local treatment center is trying to raise awareness about eating disorders and their effects. 

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“1 person every 52 minutes dies from an eating disorder in the United States every year. About 9 percent of the population at one point will struggle with an eating disorder,” says Chris Harris, Focus Treatment Centers. 

The signs of someone suffering from an eating disorder can vary but the most common ones including:  a preoccupation with weight or food, refusing to eat certain foods, fluctuation of weight and withdrawal from normal activity.

Since the pandemic began almost a year ago, health officials say they have seen an uptick in eating disorder diagnoses and are concerned. 

“Most eating disorder treatment centers in the United States are on waitlist because they don’t have any more room. That’s happened since the pandemic. Some things we think are contributing to that are food insecurity. The lack of normal access to different types of food. Also, social isolation that we are all experiencing. That lack of connection with others. With the combining of those factors people are definitely struggling more,” says Harris. 

Data suggests more and more young people are developing eating disorders than ever before. 

“It might be because we have better education and better screenings to do that. There are also some suggestions that social media like Instagram play a role in how children are viewing their bodies and comparing themselves to other people. But to develop an eating disorder it’s a combination of things that happened, there’s not usually one cause,” says Harris.

If you or a loved one think you might be suffering from an eating disorder and would like to learn more about recovery options click here