Jul 2, 2012 at 8:42 am
ST. CLOUD, MN (KNSI) - Most people worry about how they look as they head out the door each day, but for thousands of Minnesotans, a distorted body image actually is a serious medical problem.
Jillian Lampert with The Emily Program says it's a misconception that an eating disorder is simply a lifestyle choice.
"People think people with eating disorders are choosing to starve themselves, or choosing to binge and purge, or choosing to over-eat in a vain attempt to look a certain way," Lampert said. "But it is a diagnosable mental illness."
Another myth about eating disorders is that it's limited to skinny girls from upper-class families
"Eating disorders don't discriminate on race or ethnicity or income or political party or gender or anything else," Lampert said. "The idea that all eating disorders look like someone with anorexia is really quite a bit of a myth."
Lampert says up to three percent of men have an eating disorder, while the figure for women is double that. She also notes that, without treatment, eating disorders can be deadly. And it is not just those who live with the disease for long periods of time who are at risk.
"We know of cases of people who have had eating disorders for six months or a year, they end up dying because they are binging and purging and their electrolytes get off and their heart stops or they die of starvation or cardiac arrest," Lampert said. "They are really, really serious illnesses."
Lampert says it's likely that around 200,000 Minnesotans suffer from some type of eating disorder. The most common are bulimia and anorexia.
The Emily Program offers personalized treatment for eating disorders and has eight locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro Area.
Temp: 57°F (14°C)
Wind: 7 N