Food makes Thomas Burke nauseous. Burke, an ex-Marine, won’t eat in front of people because he’s likely to vomit. He barely gets down meals and never finishes what’s on his plate. He’s struggled with anorexia and bulimia at different periods for more than a decade, and like many other veterans with eating disorders, he attributes them to his time in the military. Burke, of Weston, said that in his Marines’ basic training, drill instructors didn’t eat in front of the troops, which he saw as a message that eating is a weakness.
This is not original with me, but what if all women living in the U.S. wore their weight written on small placards around their necks? (Mine would say “150.” Let’s just get that out there.)
Would that make life any easier? Because if you are a female living in the United States, when it comes to weight, you’re living in a hall of mirrors. The average Hollywood actress, if you can believe the trades, is somewhere between sizes 4 and 6. The average weight of the American woman, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a little over 166 pounds.
Thousands of Connecticut adults and children – some as young as 10 – struggle with eating disorders with many suffering secretly because the life-threatening psychiatric condition has gone undiagnosed and untreated, experts in the field report. “We used to see eating disorders start at 13 or 14. Now we frequently see 10- and 11-year olds,” said Dr. Diane Mickley, founder and director of the Wilkins Center for Eating Disorders in Greenwich, which has treated females and males for three decades. Mickley is a founder and past president of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). “We’re concerned that there are many boys and girls flying under the radar who could be struggling with eating disorders that aren’t diagnosed or treated,” said Craig Brown, a founder and chief executive officer for Center for Discovery, which since 2011 has opened two adolescent residential treatment centers in Fairfield County for youth ages 11 to 17.