Local specialists discuss importance of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 8:54 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- Nearly 29 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

February 27-March 5 is National Eating Disorder Awareness week.

It aims to de-stigmatize shame surrounding eating disorders and promote resources for recovery.

Michael Butchko is the director of Duluth’s The Emily Program, an eating disorder recovery organization.

“It’s so critical that we continue to have conversations bringing awareness to the challenges, the dangers, the risks of eating disorders,” Butchkko said.

Those risks include other health concerns and even death, as eating disorders are the deadliest mental illness, with someone dying as a direct result every 52 minutes.

“What happens to your body inside can bring on some cardiovascular problems, and some different problems with your kidneys and diabetes, and many other diseases that just don’t have favorable outcomes for healthy living,” said Stacey Karkkainen with Essentia Health’s Weight Management department.

She said it’s essential people take care of their bodies in a healthy way.

“If you feel like you have an unhealthy perception of your body and an unhealthy relationship with your body, the best thing to do is to talk to somebody, to reach out and many times that is the hardest step,” Karkkainen said.

Butchko with The Emily Program said it’s important people are aware of how they talk about food and their own body image, as anyone can suffer from an eating disorder.

He says of everyone who experiences an eating disorder, one-third of them are men.

“Eating disorders do not discriminate, they come in various shapes and sizes, they don’t discriminate upon color, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, they can impact anybody,” Butchko said.

To learn more about The Emily Program, click here.

To learn more about NEDA Week, click here.