Run to raise awareness for eating disorders
Selena Ponio | Friday, February 27, 2015
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) two-mile Fun Run and Walk takes place Friday at 1 p.m. in front of Rockne Memorial. The run is free for all participants.
NEDA, founded in 2001, is the United States’ leading non-profit organization aimed at raising awareness of eating disorders, according to its website. NEDA works to support those affected by eating disorders, work toward the prevention of eating disorders and improve access to treatment for those affected.
The run will begin at the Rockne and continue to Angela Boulevard and around Main Circle.
Juniors Katie Schultz and Molly Cullinan are part of the student team that planned out the logistics of the run.
“We’ve been working on [the run] for about a month,” Cullinan said. “We originally wanted to do the lakes … but that wasn’t feasible. Mapping the run and figuring out an actual feasible distance was the hardest part of it.”
The NEDA Fun Run coincides with the University’s Love Your Body Week, as well as National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
“We’re trying to raise awareness for eating disorders, because it’s a problem that is widespread but not talked about often,” Cullinan said.
Schultz said one of NEDA’s goals is to focus on and debunk misconceptions about eating disorders — for example, that eating disorders affect only females and not males. According to NEDA’s website, approximately 20 million women and 10 million men are affected by an eating disorder in their lifetime.
“There’s a general stigma [that] people have a choice [on whether or not they have an eating disorder], but there are biological, genetic and environmental factors,” Schultz said. “It’s not something intrinsically wrong with the person.”
According to NEDA’s website, eating disorders are mental illnesses and not lifestyle choices. In comparison with other mental disorders, anorexia has one of the highest mortality rates.
Cullinan said there is a difference between exercising to maintain a healthy lifestyle and exercising to lose weight.
“Exercise is great and part of a healthy lifestyle, but our focus is running to be healthy [to gain] cardiovascular benefits and not to lose weight,” Cullinan said.
Schultz said the NEDA run helps promote this healthy mentality of exercise as a long-term investment as opposed to a short term weight-loss goal.
“This happens every year and is solely for the point of raising awareness,” Schultz said. “We want the run to emphasize … that there is a huge support system here.”
The run will begin with speeches about NEDA’s mission and end with all participants receiving free food such as Kind bars, fruit and Einstein Bros. products.
The run will also promote awareness of resources for combatting eating disorders, including the University Counseling Center, Cullinan said.
“We want this to be an open discussion. It’s not anything to be ashamed of,” Cullinan said. “[The run is] really just to raise awareness and [to say], if you have a friend, or if you yourself are struggling, get help.”