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Young Black Women and Girls Suffer With Eating Disorders Too?

Are you stressed? Are you experiencing feelings of anxiety and or moodiness? Have you or others noticed that you are very irritable? Have you noticed you have been binge eating to cope?

Did you know that incidences of eating disorders have increased for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) people?

February 27-March 5 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week—this year's theme, #ItsTimeForChange, focuses on educating and detecting the symptoms of eating disorders and providing resources to address and treat them. According to the National Alliance for Eating Disorders, binge eating is the most common eating disorder among Black women. In addition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) confirms there are relationships between mood disorders and binge eating in Black women.

Unfortunately, many recent studies on this have targeted young White women and excluded Black women from clinical trials.

"A lot of the information that we receive when it comes to diagnosing ... doesn't always fit these marginalized demographic groups," Black Girls Smile Founder and Executive Director Lauren Carson told the HuffPost about depression and other related psychological disorders.

Besides the lack of ethnic inclusivity in research, there is a stigma associated with seeking treatment and a lack of accessibility due to economic constraints. Also, there remains a reluctance and mistrust between the Black and medical communities.

"The Black community has had a long history of suspicion towards the medical community that the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and the misuse of Henrietta Lacks’ cells left in its wake," continues Carson.

So how can we work to decrease the incidence of eating disorders among young Black women and girls?

  • Prioritize your mental health. Look for signs of stress, like overeating, irritability, anxiety, and depression.

  • Caregivers, friends, and family members need to practice vigilance. Since most of our time is with caregivers, friends, and family, they may be the first identifier of signs of potential emotional distress.

  • Advocate for more research using young Black women and girls in eating disorder clinical trials.

  • Keep your medical appointments. Medical professionals train to identify conflicts between what we express and how our bodies respond. For example, patients may say they are fine, but the medical practitioner may notice a significant weight gain since the last medical appointment and will explore more with additional questioning and or testing.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, immediately contact your primary care provider and check out these resources:


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