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June 03, 2008

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Equating the Freshman 15 and the occasional tryst with Ben and Jerry with a life-threatening eating disorder is like comparing Happy Hour with alcoholism. It's not apples and oranges you're comparing: it's an apple and a whole freaking crate of oranges.

I am recovering from a nearly decade-long battle with anorexia that almost killed me several times. One of those times was a suicide attempt because of the guilt I felt over the debt I had caused my family for my treatment. Treatment that wasn't covered AT ALL by insurance. All of the research on anorexia shows that is a *biologically based mental illness*, with a genetic contribution as large as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Being so afraid of food and weight that you stop drinking water and are taking 50 extra strength ExLax ever day is a far, far cry from playing with strained peaches.

You say you have never met someone who doesn't have an eating disorder, but I wonder if you've met someone who really does have a clinical eating disorder. Because it sure doesn't sound that way.

If you don't know anyone who doesn't have an eating disorder then you may want to use another term for it - you are certainly not using the term the way it is meant by those of us who have seen the life-threatening, family-destroying mental illnesses, bulimia and anorexia.

This is not "playing with food," nor is it as analogous to alcohol addiction - something you have personal experience dealing with.

Saying everyone has it is like saying because all of us have cells that divide we all have cancer.

EDs are not a choice, or an extreme choice. This is a real brain disease and it is devastating. Death and disability are one measure, but only part of the picture.

Having popular culture not understand this, I get. I can even understand how patients, anosognosic and confused, don't get it. But surely the law and insurance should have a more science-based perspective?

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