Eating disorders and African Americans

October 9, 2009 3:23:35 PM PDT
Eating disorders are illnesses most frequently found in young women, although boys and young men are also victims. We often hear of high school and college girls plus fashion models being afflicted with these disorders, but we don't often hear about the problem in women of color. Eating disorders are illnesses most frequently found in young women, although boys and young men are also victims. We often hear of high school and college girls plus fashion models being afflicted with these disorders, but we don't often hear about the problem in women of color.

Eating disorders are commonly misunderstood. An obsession with controlling one's food intake and or ones weight can become a life threatening illness. One fact that is becoming clearer is that no group, no ethnic group, is protected from developing eating disorders.

Amber Bela Muse, a singer and actress, battled anorexia. She's also recovering from an eating disorder. She had never heard of a person with an eating disorder in the African American community.

"I knew what I was doing was messed up as I was getting sicker because I wanted to read up about the disorder. It seemed like a white girls disease," said Amber.

Latria Graham is a writer and journalist. She's been challenged by binge eating and bulimia, -- throwing up. It started when she was just 10 and trying to control her weight.

"I would go and just eat a lot of food, random food not even I like and then I would go thro up or take laxatives," said Latria.

Eating disorders are commonly associated with wafer thin fashion models, Not African American girls. There are some, but not many studies, looking at the problem across ethnic lines, but none specifically studying it in women of color.

Dr. Evelyn Attia runs the center for eating disorders Columbia Center for Eating disorders.

. "We don't know enough about those who are affected by eating disorders and we clearly need more research to better understand how these disorders affect minority populations and affects individuals of color," Dr. Evelyn Attia.

Popular actress Kerry Washington has spoken publicly about her own eating disorder. It was a revelation that gave Amber Solace.

"That was the first time I actually read about an African American who struggled through eating disorder and I was like there are actually other black women out there who struggle with this disease.

Latria is now working on a book about her experience and both young women are involved in helping their community learn about this disorder. Both have gone through deep suffering and hospitalization and are doing well in recovery. And this weekend, there is a celebrity walk in New York City to bring awareness to these disorders. For more information on the walk go to:

Eating Disorder Awareness Walk

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