Online screening for eating disorders now available

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Three minutes can save a life. That's the message during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. It takes three minutes to complete an online screening to see if you're at risk.

The National Eating Disorders Association is offering the free, anonymous screening.

"It's a great first step for them to come to terms with they might have an eating disorder," said Tanja Haaland, program director of the Eating Disorder Center of Kansas City.

Haaland said people often fail to see the severity of the issues. She said that's especially true with orthorexia, an obsession with clean or healthy eating.

"One of the most common things we hear is, 'Well, healthy eating is what we're supposed to do. Exercising is good for me'," said Haaland.

But not in the extreme. Haaland said catching problems early can save lives.

"The longer an individual goes on with their eating disorder, the higher the risk they are for medical complications. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, so we want to make sure individuals are getting the treatment they need and deserve," she said.

If indicated, the screening provides referrals for treatment which is the next step toward recovery.

Haaland emphasized that screening is for females and males of any age. She said in the past year, she's had two patients in their sixties with eating disorders.

The National Eating Disorders Association also offers a live helpline Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 800-931-2237.