GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)-More than 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder, and nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder, according to the Eating Disorders Coalition. Every 62 minutes, someone dies as a direct result of complications from an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are the most complex of all mental illnesses, and have the second highest mortality rate among adolescence, only after the number one killer, car accidents.

One of the biggest misconceptions of an eating disorder is that those who suffer become ill due to vanity and the drive to be thin. However, eating disorders stem from multiple mental issues which manifest from a plethora of different events including; trauma, the onset of puberty, entering high school or college, or a major illness or death of someone close to them. These can all be overwhelming events.

“It’s more about something internal. The behavior you see on the surface, the dieting, or the binging or the binge eating and purging…really that’s just the symptom”, says, Rosalyn Baker LMSW, and Certified Nutritional Consultant and Neurotherapist.  “There’s an emotional conflict going on underneath. For some individuals, it’s wanting control, or managing anxiety, with younger children it can be maturity fears about growing up and becoming an independent adult.”

Eating Disorders are known as the secret disease. Often the person suffering becomes so wrapped up in the disorder that it begins to take on a life of it’s own.

“Anorexia folks are very type A personality. They do very well at school, very well at their job, and very well at managing their life. They keep working harder and harder at it so it’s easy to kind of overlook those things.” SaysLaura Discipio, LCSW and Executive Director of ANAD.

Because eating disorders are so complex, noticing the warning signs can be extremely difficult. Often times when a friend or family member notices warning signs, the personal has more than likely been dealing with an eating disorder for months and sometimes even years.

Eating disorders do not discriminate against gender, age, race or economic background. According to ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), male patient numbers rose in one year from 3 patients to over 30. Men also feel body image pressure which can result in Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating and Body dysmorphic disorder.Know the warning signs:

Pulling away from friends and family

Loss of interest in activities that they’ve always enjoyed

Categorizing foods into “good” and “bad”

Eliminating whole food groups

Frequent bathroom visits after meals

Frequently skipping Meals

Taking diuretics to lose calories

Counting calories and obsessing over food

Continuously putting herself/himself down “I’m too fat”, “I’m ugly”Learn more:EATING DISORDER COALITION NERVOSA AND ADDCIATED DISORDERS HELPLINE

The ANAD Eating Disorders Helpline 630-577.1330 is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-5:00 pm, Central Time.

ANAD also has a special email address, which may be used by those who prefer email instead of phoning.

Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance or call 616.236.3156