NEDA, or the National Eating Disorders Association, was born in 2001 when two of the biggest organizations dealing with eating disorders and providing support to victims, families, and friends of eating disorders (EDAP – Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention, and AABA – American Anorexia and Bulimia Association) merged and became one single organization.  NEDA’s mission statement is to:  “support individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serve as a catalyst for prevention, cures, and access to quality care.” Recently, NEDA celebrated its 10th anniversary with a benefit dinner to raise money for its various programs.

NEDA defines an eating disorder as “extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues.”  The three most commonly recognized eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder.  Anorexia Nervosa is typically characterized by “self-starvation and excessive weight loss.”  Bulimia Nervosa usually includes cycles of binging and then purging to eliminate the calories from the binge.   Binge Eating Disorder is similar to Bulimia Nervosa, but does not include the purging part of the cycle – it is episodic binge eating.  It is easy for people to feel locked into these destructive cycles, and that is what NEDA strives to stop.

Artwork by Gracie Gralike, 19 Missouri

NEDA wants Americans to know that eating disorders do not just affect women and girls−they affect everyone, from all walks of life−people of all colors, genders, and sexual orientations.  Statistics on NEDA’s website claim that “as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life-and-death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimiaMillions more are struggling with binge eating disorder.”  These numbers are extremely high and NEDA is working proactively to reduce and, hopefully one day, eliminate these disorders.  NEDA provides many resources on its website to help people feel good about their bodies.  Check out their “Twenty Ways to Love Your Body” article here!

NEDAwareness Week is one of NEDA’s biggest events to raise awareness about the prevalence of eating disorders in the United States, and to combat them through education.  This year, NEDAwareness week was at the end of February.  It’s not too early to plan an Awareness week at your school and NEDA makes it super easy!  Check out their planning guide here.  You can also read a cool article about what one student at Hamilton College did to celebrate the week and make her friends more aware of the stigmas surrounding eating disorders and unrealistic expectations of ‘the perfect body’ at the Huffington Post.

There are tons of other ways to get involved with NEDA if you feel strongly that eating disorders should be eliminated from society.  You can apply to intern, participate in a NEDA Walk, or get involved with NEDA’s Junior Board!

What do you think about NEDA’s mission?  What can Teen Voices do to better send the message to all girls that they are perfect just the way they are?  Let us know in the comments section below!  To read more about what our teen editors have to say about the pressure to be perfect, check out this article on your website!

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