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  • Writer's pictureChetna Chauhan

Reflecting on Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Collaboration with NEDA   

Eating Disorders Awareness Week (#EDAW) is an annual campaign celebrated by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). The campaign was held from 26th Feb - 3rd of March 2024. The focus of the campaign was to reflect on the impact of eating disorders and the importance of raising awareness and support for individuals and families affected by them.

This year, the theme "Get in the Know" urged “public awareness” and emphasized the need for awareness, research, advocacy, treatment, access, and community support in combating eating disorders. 

Freed has been actively involved in advocating and raising awareness on EDs, engaging and collaborating with NEDA's Eating Disorder Awareness Week (#EDAW).

Awareness Matters

NEDA emphasized its first theme as Awareness on Feb 26, 2024

Awareness is the first step in understanding and addressing eating disorders. It helps dispel myths, reduces stigma, and encourages early intervention. By raising awareness, we can promote understanding and support for those affected.

Following up on the above statistics, it is clear that awareness is necessary at a global level, but is even more crucial for India as guilt and shame play a significant role in preventing individuals from seeking help. 

To bridge this gap, Freed conducts online educational events, corporate and private workshops, college outreach, school outreach, training teachers and school staff, and engages social media communities in raising awareness about eating disorders, disordered eating, and body image concerns. 

Those Impacted Matter

On 27th Feb 2024, NEDA focussed on those with lived experiences of Eating Disorders.

Individuals with eating disorders deserve support, understanding, and access to appropriate resources. 

“I started binge eating in 12th grade and I was also a stress eater. I started eating to cope with the feelings I was having. My first experience of having an unhealthy relationship with food was during 12th-grade board exams, and I gained a lot of weight”. Read more about Harshita’s story here.

Eating Disorders can affect anyone and therefore it is essential to recognize that these disorders are serious mental illnesses, not choices. Their experiences are real and need to be acknowledged.

“I identify as male and as some of you might already know, men are ‘supposed’ to have muscular bodies. And because I was skinny, I was routinely bullied. The bullying was so bad that I was also advised to put on weight while being subjected to offensive comments”. Read more about Vinay’s story here.

The above experiences and impactful stories provide real insights that can not only help reduce stigma and promote healing but also reassure individuals that it is okay to talk about their experiences. Read more such inspiring stories here!

Research Matters

Following the campaign, on 28th Feb 2024, NEDA highlighted another key area, which is, the conduction & inclusion of more evidence-based research to better understand EDs, DE, and body image.

The importance of research lies in global statistics, which highlight the prevalence and impact of eating disorders. 

Research is crucial in understanding the causes, risk factors, and effective treatments for eating disorders. It also helps us address concerns about those in high-risk groups and develop more effective interventions.

As research is one of the most important pillars of our work, our recent study involved a large-scale survey of 1000 Indian adults between the ages of 18-75 years. The study explored Disordered Eating and its association with various socioeconomic factors such as age, sex, marital status, living status, employment status, household income, and religion. Young adults, women, and participants living away from home reported significantly higher DE patterns. There were no associations of DE with marital status, employment, and household income, suggesting that DE could be present across all socioeconomic groups. 

Limited statistics in India highlight the need for more evidence-based research.

Advocacy Matters

NEDA, highlighted the need for the involvement and improvements of advocacy efforts in Eating Disorders on Feb 29, 2024

Advocacy efforts are vital in ensuring that individuals with eating disorders receive the care and support they need. Advocates work to raise awareness, promote policy changes, and improve access to treatment.

The Mental Healthcare Act, of 2017 in India is a step forward. This act decriminalizes suicide attempts and mandates mental health care access for all citizens. It also requires insurance companies to provide coverage for mental health treatment, including for eating disorders. 

Treatment Matters

On 1st March 2024, NEDA emphasized the most important aspect of Eating disorders, which is Eating disorder Treatment. 

Effective treatment is key to recovery from an eating disorder. Treatment should be individualized and may include therapy, nutritional support, and medical monitoring. Not only is the treatment important, but early intervention is extremely crucial for fast recovery from an ED. 

Check out this link that will direct you to information on how to get help for eating disorders, steps to get help, understanding how therapy works, and treatment & recovery process.

Access Matters

On the 2nd of March 2024, NEDA takes this further and focuses on access to care for ED individuals. 

Access to care is a significant challenge for many individuals with eating disorders. Barriers such as cost, stigma, and lack of specialized providers can prevent people from receiving the care they need. 

On this front, Freed's mission is to provide credible and reliable access to information, resources, and professional services that can help individuals combat eating disorders. 

Community Matters

On the last day of the campaign, 3rd March 2024, the importance and the need for community support in ED recovery is addressed. 

Community support is indeed essential in helping individuals with eating disorders feel understood and supported. 

By building supportive communities, we can create a more compassionate and understanding society for those affected by eating disorders. 

Support groups and sharing circles can provide the essence of community support.

Call to Action!

Let's commit to "Get in the Know" this year. By raising awareness, engaging in research, advocating for change, prioritizing treatment, improving access, and building supportive communities, we can make a difference in the lives of those impacted by eating disorders. Scroll through our website and Instagram page for updates, resources, a directory of professionals, and initiatives for addressing ED concerns in India. Alternatively, you can also email us at to join our mission.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, we’re here to guide and support you through each step. Reach out to us! Remember, recovery is possible, and support is available.

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