"More individuals actually die of an eating disorder than any other mental illness."
Janice Poplack is the senior social worker and primary clinician in the eating disorders unit at the Menninger Clinic in Houston. She says people with eating disorders tend to see eating as secretive and private, and may be reluctant to gather with others. Some families take the pressure off.
"They say don't worry we understand we don't want you to feel badly if you don't feel you can be here that's fine."
Others say come over and be with us, and if you don't want to eat, that's okay.
This of course is for those with an acknowledged problem. Those who are not getting treatment are difficult to reach because they tend to see their eating habits as good, positive things in the their lives. It makes broaching the subject difficult.
Poplack says pointing out their problem is not effective.
"We suggest that family members and friends approach the person by expressing their own feelings to them. They can say things like, it's just gotten to a point where I'm very, very concerned. I'm concerned about you. I'm worried about you."
Poplack says eating disorders are often a mask that hides other problems, which is even more, reason why they need to be taken seriously and why seeking treatment is critical.