Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness Week (BIEDAW)
WRITTEN BY ASHLEIGH OLIVE
From 5th to 11th September 2022, Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness Week (BIEDAW) will endeavour to raise awareness of body image concerns and eating disorders. Eating disorders currently affect one in 20 Australians every year, and they are severe and complex illnesses which have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses and an average recovery length of up to six years.
In 2022, BIEDAW is promoting the importance of early intervention and encouraging early action to enhance prospects of treatment outcomes and recovery.
BIEDAW marks an important and necessary reminder that we can all play a profound role in the early intervention of eating disorders. The Butterfly Foundation recommends the following four steps for supporting early intervention:
1. Know the warning signs
It is important to know that eating disorders can present in all body shapes and sizes; and everyone’s experience of an eating disorder will be individual. A range of physical, psychological, and behavioural warning signs can be observed which may suggest someone is experiencing an eating disorder:
Physical warning signs: weight loss or frequent weight changes, fainting or dizziness, tiredness and lethargy, feeling cold
Psychological warning signs: appearing anxious or emotional at mealtimes, cognitive rigidity and food rules, preoccupation with eating, food, body shape, and weight
Behavioural warning signs: dieting, secretive eating, a change in eating behaviours, body checking, avoiding eating with others, dysfunctional exercise
2. Know who is at risk
Research has identified that certain populations may be at increased risk of eating disorder development:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
"Eating disorders do not discriminate and can occur in people of any age, weight, size, shape, gender identity, sexuality, cultural background, or socioeconomic group.”
3. Act early – don’t watch and wait
The Butterfly Foundation has published a factsheet with advice as to How To Start The Conversation with someone you suspect may be experiencing an eating disorder. It is critical that anyone experiencing concerns regarding eating or body image seeks immediate support; it is not appropriate to ‘watch and wait’.
4. Talk about eating disorders to reduce stigma and spread awareness
Despite one in 20 Australians experiencing an eating disorder each year, it has been shown that stigma and shame contributes to less than one in four Australians seeking professional help.We can all play a role in reducing the stigma and shame associated with eating disorders, and committing to shifting our unhelpful societal attitudes and beliefs regarding diet culture and weight stigma
At True North Psychology, we have several psychologists, including two ANZAED Credentialed Eating Disorder Clinicians, with extensive experiencing in providing evidence-based treatment for eating disorders in children, adolescents, and adults.
To access further information regarding support for eating disorders and body image concerns, the following resources are available:
For health professionals seeking further information regarding the clinical practice guidelines for managing and treating eating disorders, the following resources are available: