Are you or a loved one struggling?
The National Eating Disorder Association reports a more than 53 percent increase in call volume to its helpline since the start of the pandemic. Just over a third of those patients are ages 13 to 17, and about 36 percent are 18 to 24 years old.
The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, too, has seen a 50 percent jump in calls from teens and their parents since the pandemic began.
"It's really a tough time for not just teens, but for adults as well. We've previously been socializing and out and about at school, work and other social gatherings. Now there's this feeling of isolation and lack of control. People look to food as a way to gain that control, however, this unfortunately can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food as well as potentially dangerous eating habits," said Lisa James, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in eating disorders at her outpatient private practice with offices in Bucks and Mercer Counties.
James encourages parents to closely monitor their children, and if they sense there's a change in their child's eating behaviors do not hesitate to seek help.
"Simply reach out, schedule a session with a Licensed Registered Dietitian, for you and your child to discuss healthy eating behaviors. You do not have to have a specific diagnosis in order to meet with a health care professional who specializes in eating disorders," says James.
Eating disorders affect nearly 30 million Americans in their lifetime and cause about 10,000 U.S. deaths each year, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
"The sooner someone receives professional help, the greater their chances are of full recovery...it's a journey," James said.