Miami Walk Raises Funds for National Eating Disorders Association

More than 250 participants helped raise funds for research and treatment of a challenging psychiatric condition at the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Miami Walk on March 13 at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“Eating disorders are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices,” said Ingrid G. Barrera, Psy.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and Director of the University of Miami Eating Disorders Program, which provides comprehensive treatment for adolescents and adults struggling with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders.

Barrera added that the first NEDA Miami Walk, held in front of the Lois Pope LIFE Center on the Miller School campus, brought family members together to support individuals with eating disorders.

“Many times the family members feel guilty or accept the blame for a patient’s behavior,” she said. “Others don’t understand the complexity of these psychiatric conditions, which typically require long-term multidisciplinary treatment.”

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, according to NEDA, the leading non-profit advocate for individuals and families affected by eating disorders. In a national survey, four out of 10 people reported that they either suffered from or have known someone who has suffered from an eating disorder.

“Eating disorders have the highest fatality rate of all the major psychiatric conditions,” said Barrera. “But the level of research funding is much lower than for disorders like schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s disease. That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness and get the community involved.”

Barrera said NEDA walks are held throughout the country to raise funds for services to individuals and families affected by eating disorders, including “scholarships” to help defray the cost of treatment.

Located in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of Miami Hospital, the UM Eating Disorders Program includes inpatient medical stabilization/weight restoration treatment, and outpatient programs. The staff includes psychiatrists, internal medicine experts, psychologists, master-level therapists, psychiatric residents and registered dietitians.

Outpatient appointments may be scheduled by calling 305-243-4000, information about inpatient admissions is available by calling 305-685-4444, and general information about the University of Miami Eating Disorders Program is available on the department’s website.

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