NEDAwareness Week Key Messages

The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is to promote public and media attention to the seriousness of eating disorders and improve education about the biological underpinnings, environmental triggers, warning signs and how to help those struggling. Education and direction to resources can lead to earlier detection, intervention, and help-seeking, ultimately improving likelihood of full recovery.

2014 Theme: I Had No Idea

This year the National Eating Disorders Association is stressing the need to address eating disorder misconceptions - as many individuals, families, and communities are not aware of the often devastating mental and physical consequences - and highlights available resources for treatment and support. We urge you to talk about the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape these disorders with your family, friends, colleagues and community by doing just one thing during NEDAwareness Week. Your participation will 1) raise awareness that eating disorders are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices; 2) provide accurate information to medical, educational and/or business communities, and 3) direct people to potentially life-saving information and resources about eating disorders.

Join Us, and Do Just One Thing

You don’t need to have a lot of time, money or other resources to make a difference. Simply choose one thing you will do to help. Here are a few examples:

  • Bring a NEDAwareness Week Volunteer Speaker to your PTA, workplace, college campus, club, etc.
  • Download and print a free copy of NEDA’s Educator Toolkit, Parent Toolkit and Coach & Athletic Trainer Toolkit to give to your local schools
  • Provide accurate information: Put NEDAwareness Week posters, pamphlets and handouts in your schools, community centers, medical offices or workplaces
  • Maximize the power of your social networking: Join our campaign by tweeting a fact about eating disorders, post one of the many NEDAwareness Week articles, share NEDAwareness Week videos and infographics, post the NEDA Helpline, share a link to NEDA’s online eating disorder screening

Eating disorders are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices. 

Eating disorders are complex illnesses that arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, biological and social factors. As our natural body size and shape is largely determined by genetics, fighting our natural size and shape can lead to unhealthy dieting practices, poor body image and decreased self-esteem. Body dissatisfaction and thin ideal internalization are both significant risk factors for the development of eating disorder behaviors like restricting and binge eating. While eating disorders may begin with preoccupations with food and weight, they are about much more than food. Recent research has shown that genetic factors create vulnerabilities that place individuals at risk for acting on cultural pressures and using food to feel in control or manage overwhelming emotions. 

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED).

Education, early intervention, and access to care are critical.

Early diagnosis and intervention significantly enhance recovery. If not identified or treated in their early stages, eating disorders can become chronic, debilitating, and even life-threatening conditions. A review of nearly fifty years of research confirms that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder . As a culture, it is time for all communities to talk about eating disorders, address their contributing factors, advocate for access to treatment and take action for early intervention. You can make a difference: do just one thing to initiate awareness, education and discussion about eating disorders in your community. If we all do something, we’ll have a tremendous impact!

Help is available, and recovery is possible.

While eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses, help is available and recovery is possible. It is important for those affected, and their loved ones, to remember that they are not alone in their struggle. Others have recovered and are now living healthy fulfilling lives. Let the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) be a part of your network of support. NEDA has information and resources available via our website and helpline:, NEDA Helpline: 800-931-2237.

Download and share the 2014 Key Messages here.


Stice, E. (2002). Risk and maintenance factors for eating pathology: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 825-848. PMID: 12206196

Arcelus, J., Mitchell, A. J., Wales, J., & Nielsen, S. (2011). Mortality rates in patients with Anorexia Nervosa and other eating disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(7), 724-731.