Eating Disorders: Intermountain Health Experts Say What to Look for and How to Help

Industry: Healthcare

Eating disorders will impact an estimated 30 million Americans in their lifetime

Salt Lake City, UT (PRUnderground) February 24th, 2023

Eating disorders affect tens of millions of Americans, but support is available, and recovery is possible.

“Eating disorders are a debilitating health crisis for the people experiencing them and the life disruptions that accompany them,” said Jennifer Wilke, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Intermountain Health. “But there is hope.”

Eating disorders have the second-highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, behind opioid-related deaths, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Eating disorders also will impact an estimated 30 million Americans in their lifetime, the association reports.

Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status, according to the Academy for Eating Disorders.

An eating disorder is not a choice, but a serious illness, influenced by genes and a person’s environment, that disrupts personal and family functioning.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is the last week of February. Here are some signs of a loved one may have an eating disorder:

  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Rapid, unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling the need to get rid of food they’ve just eaten
  • Eating more than feels normal and feeling out of control when eating.

Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible, Wilke said. Detection and intervention are key.

Here are some ways to help a loved one:

  • Learn about eating disorders and available resources.
  • Look for a good time to begin a private conversation.
  • Choose supportive language to express concerns, and ask questions on how you might be of help.
  • Listen without judgment.
  • Gently suggest professional help.
  • Keep your door open. Let the person know you’re there for them.

For more conversation starters and tips, go to

About Intermountain Health

Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Health is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see

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