Have you ever seen friends pick at or separate the food on their plate? Are they obsessed with personal appearance even though they are thin? Are they always on a diet, even when at a healthy weight? If you have friends with any of these symptoms, please consider the information below because they may need your help.

BASIC FACTS

Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by self-starvation. This is probably the best known eating disorder, and is most often found in teenage Caucasian girls from middle class families. However, it has been found among all types of people.

Bulimia Nervosa is the second major eating disorder. Symptoms are "bingeing and purging." People with bulimia do not usually look as thin as those with anorexia, but the disorder can cause just as much damage to their bodies.

Statistics: According to research done by EDAP (Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention), 5 to 10 million females and 1 million males have a problem with some type of eating disorder. Their studies show that a distorted body image begins at an early age. A study done by Collins in 1991 shows 42% of first through third grade girls want to be thinner. A similar study done in 1991 shows that 81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of being fat. The media influences the distorted body image by portraying exceptionally thin women. Research shows the average American woman is 5'4" tall and weighs 140 pounds, not exactly what the standard teenager sees on TV and in the movies. However, the average model is 5'11" tall and weighs 117 pounds.

HOW TO HELP A FRIEND

Have you been wondering what you can do to help a friend of yours who has an eating disorder? Here are a few guidelines to follow when confronting a friend about this problem. Remember, eating disorders are very serious! If you are not sure what to do, talk to a school counselor or a trusted adult. Do not be afraid to confront the person about it; you may be the only one who can help. Here is what you should do:

• Talk to the person in a private area and at an appropriate time.
• Let the person know that you are worried about them and want to help.
• Help the person find suitable treatment (either a doctor or a therapist) and offer to go with them to their appointment.
• Contact a trusted adult as the disorder may be life-threatening.
• Be patient while the person decides what they need to do. If they deny there is a problem, understand that they are going through a difficult time.
• If you believe the person is suicidal or in other serious danger, get help immediately! Please take a stand and help a friend. If you don't, who will?
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