Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, news, and advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

Written by Lisa Railton
on October 1, 2020

When it comes to mental health and wellness, eating disorders are sometimes overlooked or considered a choice rather than an illness. However, these complex conditions can seriously impact students’ physical and mental health, often requiring both medical and psychological intervention.

According to a recent report, 9% of the country’s population will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. That’s around 28.8 million Americans, starting as young as five years old to over 80, suffering from these conditions. And while anyone can develop an eating disorder—regardless of gender, age, race, orientation, or socioeconomic status—females are twice as likely to be affected. What’s more, people of color are half as likely to be diagnosed or receive treatment.

With an estimated 10% of individuals with eating disorders losing their lives to their illness, it’s time to take a closer look at this issue.

One Teen Is Fed Up
High school student Emily Kavic founded Fed Up to raise awareness about how eating disorders affect adolescents. “Over the course of the past few years, I’ve taken note of how while there are bustling communities for other diseases and disorders, it seems that there is no pulse of life when it comes to eating disorders,” said Kavic. “People are often embattled with eating disorders without having access to a community or platform. I launched Fed Up to try to help—if not to prevent, then certainly to rehabilitate earlier on while it’s actually happening.”

Kavic believes that the lack of discussion around eating disorders creates a stigma, leaving affected students to suffer in silence. She launched Fed Up to help break the silence and give those living with eating disorders a platform to share their experiences. “Fed Up is lending itself as a forum where people can share their thoughts about eating disorders and mental health. It’s largely a conversational space, offering a sense of camaraderie to those who need it,” she said.

Supporting Students With Eating Disorders
When it comes to helping students who are struggling with an eating disorder, Kavic believes that simply addressing the issue is the first, and most important, step. “There seems to be a general omission of eating disorders in mental health advocacy altogether,” she said. “Being cognizant of eating disorders and disordered eating can help address the issue at large.”

“We’re hoping to generate a dialogue about eating disorders because I believe simply speaking about it will enable progress in terms of how we speak about this issue,” continued Kavic. “Many people aren’t comfortable with the term eating disorder, and the language used when speaking about these issues can be readily misunderstood. Encouraging students to speak can catalyze student progress.”

Want to learn more about this topic and other issues impacting today’s students? Join us for our Student Wellness Series of webinars this fall to hear from experts about eating disorders, anxiety, and more.

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