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Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW)

Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW)

February 6th - 12th, 2000

Contributed by Karin Davis. Karin's feature and related resources on the prevention of eating disorders will be published next week in OHPE bulletin #143.1 and #143.2.

A. What is EDAW?

EDAW is an international public education and outreach campaign, which is recognized and celebrated each year in February, to educate the public about food and weight issues, including eating disorders.

The Friday of each EDAW is designated as "Fearless Friday", described by the National Eating Disorder Information Centre as "a day where dieters across the continent are encouraged to step back from restrictive eating and to assess how else dieting restricts their lives. It is a day of celebration and protest: celebration of people's bodies in all their natural variety, and protest against the harmful perpetuation of society's notion that an individual's worth is determined by physical appearance."

EDAW is an opportunity to:

* Distribute information to individuals, organizations and the media about food and weight issues

* Explore how these issues impact our lives and the lives of those around us.

* Challenge our individual and cultural attitudes, beliefs and behaviours around food, weight and shape.

* Increase the awareness of the relationship between dieting, body image and body image dissatisfaction.

* Challenge the narrow and unrealistic standard of beauty that exists in the media and in our minds.

* Challenge the myths that exist around weight loss and dieting.

* Celebrate the diversity of beautiful and healthy bodies.

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B. Why is EDAW important?

Food and weight issues, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, restrictive eating, dieting and body image dissatisfaction, continue to be rampant in our culture. It is considered almost "normal" for women to be dieting and young girls to be concerned about their shape and size. It is estimated that 90% of women experience body-image dissatisfaction, 80% have dieted by the age of 18 years and up to 15% have many of the symptoms of an "eating disorder". Girls and women are spending their precious time, energy and money trying to attain an unrealistic beauty ideal while damaging and in some cases, destroying their bodies, minds and spirit.

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C. Who is involved in EDAW?

Across Canada, the U.S and parts of Australia and Europe, educators, students, therapists, doctors, health promotion professionals, organizations and individuals work together to organize activities and events that both inform, educate, challenge and entertain their audiences. In Canada, The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) [] sponsors the week by providing posters, pamphlets and other material as well as support and expertise around what type of events to hold and how to encourage participation and media exposure. The national sponsor of EDAW in the U.S. is Eating Disorder Awareness and Prevention (EDAP) [], which also provides a variety of resources, materials and support to those involved in planning local activities or events.

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D. What can I do and how can I become involved?

* Attend EDAW 2000 Events (There are numerous events and activities planned for EDAW 2000 across the province and country. Check the NEDIC web site for the events that are planned in Ontario (Toronto, Peel, Hamilton), as well as across Canada (in Regina, Calgary, Moncton)

* Inform NEDIC about EDAW events that are being organized in your area so that the full impact of EDAW can be more clearly recognized and appreciated.

* Engage your family, friends and co-workers in discussions around food and weight issues and challenge the myths that are exposed.

* Celebrate Fearless Friday by planning a quick and easy potluck lunch or dinner with your extended family, friends or co-workers.

Plan on participating in other public awareness campaigns like:

* International No Diet Day (May 6th, 2000)

* Love Your Body Campaign (Sept. 20th, 2000)

* EDAW 2001.