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National Eating Disorder Awareness week aims to break misconceptions

AVOCA, LUZERNE COUNTY (WOLF) -- For those hoping to raise awareness around eating disorders, this week is all about dialogue. Asking questions and having conversations is what many folks are are aiming for - and looking towards further understanding.

When a friend or family member is diagnosed with an eating disorder, it's often scary and confusing. The National Eating Disorder Association says folks often get overwhelmed with questions, and awareness week aims to shift that. One family practice doctor says that children are being diagnosed now as early as five years old.

"These conditions tend to present suddenly and over time with start very early with behaviors that look sort of normal, and for that reason, people are often surprised that a few years later, it turns into a frank eating disorder. But, the prerequisites were there earlier," says Dr. Tina George, family practice doctor at Commonwealth Health.

Dr. George also says the best way for children to develop healthy relationships is with parents leading by example.

"Make sure that you're demonstrating the kind of behaviors you would want your children to have," she says. "Meaning, not fad diets or not emphasizing people's weight when you talk about them or use words like "fat" or judgmental terms for people who are overweight or too thin.

Experts say there are a lot of myths surrounding eating disorders, something that affects around 20 million women and 10 million men worldwide. Jennifer Buckwash, an alum of the Renfrew Recovery Center in Philadelphia and a therapist who works with those struggling, says the biggest misconception is whether or not it's a choice.

"It's not a choice. I don't think that anybody would choose the difficulty and the heartbreak that goes along with having an eating disorder and I think that that's the misconception - is that it's a choice or a diet gone wrong. Because if we could do it a different way, I'm sure that we would," Buckwash says.

Buckwash also explains that the best way for folks to support loved ones struggling is to let them know you're there for them.

For more information you can visit the National Eating Disorder Association's website at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

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