Even though this message is blazoned across The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) homepage, few people understand this very important fact. Too often, anorexics, (not to mention bulimics and binge eaters) are blamed for their own illnesses, and have to bear the unfair judgments of other people on top of the intense pain, loneliness and hopelessness that go with the disease.
So I was happy to see findings of a study released today showing that people with anorexia are less likely to be blamed for their illness when the biological and genetic underpinnings of their disorder are explained.
Author Michele A. Crisafulli, who published the study as an honors undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, hopes that her finding will help “decrease the blame-based stigma that is associated with the disorder.”
The study will be published Jan. 9, 2008, in the online version of the International Journal of Eating Disorders, and appear later in the print version of the journal.
Dr. Cynthia Bulik, one of the great researchers in the field, head of UNC’s eating disorders program and the senior author of the study (You might have read her book, Runaway Eating: The 8-Point Plan to Conquer Adult Food and Weight Obsessions) noted, “There is a lot of false information about anorexia nervosa disseminated in pop culture. This study suggests that even a nugget of accurate biological information can influence how health care professionals perceive the illness.”
Let’s keep spreading the word. Anorexia is hard enough to beat without feeling blamed for getting it as well.