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West Virginia To Hold First Eating Disorder Conference

A group of health care professionals are stepping up to address misconceptions surrounding the disease.

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By Shawn Dwyer

03/31/14

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Though one in 10 men and three in 10 women suffer from some form of eating disorder, widespread misconceptions about such disorders have persisted. That is why some health care professionals in West Virginia have decided to stage the state’s first-ever conference to combat the problem.

On April 11, the West Virginia Eating Disorder Conference will kick off in Charleston, where health care professionals and others can discuss everything from diagnosis and treatments to understanding the severity of eating disorders and how to increase public awareness.

"Our hope is that everyone there will be from West Virginia or provide services in West Virginia, and we have a variety of different disciplines attending,” said Dr. Jessica Luzier, clinical director of the West Virginia University Disordered Eating Center of Charleston. “Some are physicians, and many are even trainees. Social workers, nurses and dietitians will all be part of it, as well.”

Having helped launch the Disordered Eating Center in 2010, Luzier hopes that the conference will serve as an eye-opener to both professionals and the public over how eating disorders are often misunderstood.

"Some common misconceptions include this often misconstrued portrayal that those with eating disorders must have very thin bodies," Luzier said. "Eating disorders can occur in folks of all shapes and sizes, races, genders - anyone can have binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, bulimia - they may appear to be at a healthy weight and still be at high risk."

"Even people who don't meet all of the criteria for a disease - maybe they only purge once every two weeks, or they haven't restricted their calories so much that they have lost their period as a woman,” she continued. “The sooner we can get people treatment, the better."

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