What is Eating Disorders Prevention and Why is It So Important?
Prevention is any systematic attempt to charge the circumstances that promote, sustain, or intensify problems such as eating disorders.
Primary Prevention refers to programs that are designed to prevent the occurrence of the target disorder before it begins, in other words, to promote and sustain healthy development. Primary prevention programs are often incorporated into the ongoing work of parents, teachers, clergy, and coaches.
Secondary Prevention is designed to facilitate indentification and correction of a disorder in its early stages when it is less likely to be a "lifestyle" and less likely to be associated with other significant problems like depression. Secondary prevention involves education about (a) "warning signs," (b) effective ways to reach out to people in distress, and (c) referral to appropriate sources of treatment.
Why Preventing Eating Disorders is Important
Approximately 5-10% of postpubertal girls and women suffer from an eating disorder or borderline condition. A great many more girls and women and a significant minority of men find their lives restricted by a negative body image and unhealthy weight management practices.
Consider that, at any given time, approximately 20% of our population suffers from a mental disorder or emotional problem. This means that mental health professionals will never be able to adequately respond to the 4-5 million girls and women who are suffering from full-blown eating disorders or borderline variations, let alone those who are unhealthy and unhappy chronic dieters.
Primary prevention is the only solution. Moreover, we truly believe that identifying and changing the conditions which promote eating disorders will improve the psychological and physical health of virtually evryone in our society, male and female alike.
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