I wake up each day to dozens of emails. Most are administrative aspects of operating a nonprofit with dozens of volunteers and many activities around the world. Some are from individual families seeking information and support from F.E.A.S.T.
Five emails a day are from Google alerts I have set up to make sure I’m among the first to hear about new advances in the science and treatment of eating disorders.
Today, I was appalled by three out of five. It’s only 7:48am.
I’ve been at this for over 15 years, so I can skim the titles and not only can I tell what is credible and what is speculative and what is, frankly, nonsense — I also know the authors and researchers and experts personally, in the majority of eating disorder-related papers and articles.
But for the new parent, the ones I hear from daily and our organization supports 24/7, those same headlines and serious-sounding abstracts can be confusing or worse: false leads at a time our actions could mean life or death.
This chaos of information is our fault as a society and a field. Nonsense and discredited ideas about eating disorders aren’t just wrong: they are dangerous. And when that dangerous misinformation is not counteracted with credible, clear, information from the leaders and policy-makers of the field, then we are all part of the problem. The lack of consensus about the causes, nature, best treatments — and the nonsense — is hurting vulnerable families. It is unacceptable. We cannot allow this to continue.
I start my Monday morning, fortified by a good breakfast and a really appalling list of new nonsense in pretty packaging, more determined than ever to help families get good information early, often, and clearly. And to hold even the “good guys” accountable for looking away and failing to speak in one voice.