Every year, at least 10 million women and 1 million men suffer from eating disorders nationwide. Those are numbers that Ellen Morrison, a dietitian and eating disorder specialist in the Triangle, thinks could be reduced with increased awareness and recovery options.
That’s why Morrison became the coordinator of the Raleigh chapter of the National Eating Disorders Association, which will host its second annual fundraising and awareness walk Sunday at the Meredith College Greenway.
NEDA, which has headquarters in New York City, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization that supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders. It has state chapters across the nation.
Team leaders and members of this year’s walk in the Triangle have been collecting donations for a few weeks. Some have set personal goals to help the chapter reach its overall goal of $5,000.
The money raised will support local advocacy programs, Morrison said, including a group of eating disorder professionals — physicians, psychologists and dietitians — that are available to talk with people who suffer from eating disorders and suggest appropriate treatment. Donations also will go toward NEDA’s live, toll-free hotline that sufferers or family members can call for help, information or referrals.
Usually, Morrison said, people assume that eating disorders are about a person’s weight gain and vanity. But that is not always true.
“We need to take the focus off of weight,” she said. “Because often times eating disorders can be coping mechanisms to deal with the issues of life.”
Eating disorders, she said, can be the result of an obsessive dieting regimen that has gotten out of control.
With her 17 years of experience as a dietician, Morrison said she has noticed that eating disorders are on the rise.
In addition to Sunday’s walk, there will be a small expo with booths displaying information, and guest speaker Laura Dellicker will share her story about battling an eating disorder.
The cost to register for adults is $20 before Sunday, and $25 the day of the walk. For children under 12, the cost is $10.
Morrison said people also can donate $10 – which helps fund the NEDA hotline for 10 minutes – by texting NEDA to 20222 on Sunday.