There are a lot of incorrect assumptions about eating disorders (Sturtevant, 2022), and participating in body liberation requires knowing some basic correct information. I’m mostly turning this over to the experts listed below – dieticians and organizations specializing in eating disorders, and those with lived experience – but here are some facts you will learn about that are particularly relevant to our body liberation for public health topics:
- People in ALL sizes, shapes, colors, genders and types of bodies can have eating disorders. You cannot tell if a person has an eating disorder by looking at them. The idea that only young, very thin, white, cisgender women have eating disorders has caused harm by denying access to information and treatment for other types of people (Lucas, n.d.; NEDA, 2017; Sonneville & Lipson, 2018).
- Dieting and weight stigma are risk factors for eating disorders (CEDO, n.d.; Chastain, 2023; IFEED, 2023; Millner, 2019; NEDA, 2018).
- Advancing age also does not insulate one from eating disorders. In 2019, Samuels, et al. found:
Eating disorder symptoms and body image preoccupation have been identified in increasing numbers of women over age 50. Reports indicate that women are seeking treatment for chronic, recurrent, or late onset [eating disorders]. However, health care providers generally have not screened for these conditions, and often pursue other medical diagnoses. (Samuels et al., 2019)
Knowing this information helps us to be more trauma-informed in our classrooms and in our work.