Speaking Out for Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Fredericton City Council and Mayor Woodside have declared Feb. 1-7 Eating Disorder Awareness Week.  Woodside said, “we don’t do enough for mental illness in our community.”

“We have to talk about mental illness, we need to give this the attention it deserves,” said Woodside.

According to Statistics Canada between 0.3 and 1 per cent of women will suffer from anorexia or bulimia, and of that, 5 to twenty per cent of those will eventually die. Anorexia and bulimia effects about 0.2 per cent of males as well.

Anorexia is the refusal to maintain a stable body weight, while bulimia is an eating disorder where a person will eat large amounts of food and then purge it from their systems by vomiting.

Eating disorders are on their way to becoming a hot topic in mainstream media. Campaigns like Dove Real Beauty has been successful in helping women overcome the issues surrounding body image. According to Dove they hope to reach nearly 15 million girls this year.

Singer Colbie Caillat embraced real beauty last year with her music video for “Try.”   It went viral in the first week after it’s release, accumulating 9 million views.

Lauren Valenti, from Marie Claire magazine said, “Emancipating yourself from your beauty routine every once and awhile can set you free – yes, even in a world of unrealistic beauty ideals.”

Stepha Zapata, a fourth-year University of New Brunswick (UNB) student, said she thinks that the decision to have a week dedicated to eating disorders is amazing and hopes this week will educate the public and dispel the stigma.

Stepha is in recovery from an eating disorder and is regularly monitored by her doctors.  She said in order to raise more awareness we need to start talking about eating disorders.

“I don’t think this is enough in the sense that it is the final solution but this is definitely a baby step in the right direction,” said Zapata. “The more knowledge about them, the better.”

Alysha Neily, a third-year student at UNB said, “no one should suffer in silence and I hope that the week will help people realize that should speak up.”

“I think the information needs to be put out without any negative connotations, to not be shy or beat around the bush,” said Alysha.

Stepha hopes that awareness will help people realize their symptoms and seek help.

Campus support groups like “It’s Not About Food” are available to students. You can contact this group through email, [email protected].

You can also find support at:

Chimo Helpline: 1-800-667-5005

National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Helpline: 1-800-931-2237