Eating Disorders and the One Thing You Need to Know About Them Dr. Ken Weiner, Founding Partner, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Executive Officer of Eating Recovery Center, now pens a bi-weekly blog about eating disorders on The Huffington Post. Topics will include the latest research, expert commentary from Dr. Weiner and his colleagues at Eating Recovery Center, and practical advice for recognizing and addressing an eating disorder. The first blog post, which addresses the severity of these illnesses and urges family, friends and healthcare professionals to take eating disorders very seriously, debuted this weekend. There are myriad eating disorder topics to address over the coming months, and it's nearly impossible to organize them in order of importance, because each topic in itself is critically important to understand. So for my first post, I thought I'd answer a question that I'm often asked by members of the community, and that I hope will provide some necessary context to emphasize the importance of my subsequent blog entries: What is one thing people really need to understand about eating disorders? While there are many vital issues individuals should acknowledge about eating disorders, my answer is generally as follows: Eating disorders are the deadliest mental illness, and therefore it's incredibly important for physicians, clinicians, patients, families and friends to take these diseases very, very seriously. Despite rising eating disorder awareness among the general population and healthcare professionals alike, the illnesses aren't known for their severity or for the high mortality rate associated with them, which is higher than any other mental illness, including depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and an obsessive fear of gaining weight. It's the most lethal eating disorder, with 0.5 percent of patients dying every year and a mortality rate of 20 percent within 20 years, meaning that one in five people that have had anorexia for two decades will die as a result of the illness. Even for patients whose eating disorders don't prove fatal, there are often severe medical complications associated with starvation and purging. In addition to the generally debilitating psychological implications of an eating disorder, the disease will eventually take a toll on a person's physical health, resulting in bone disease, cardiac complications, gastrointestinal distress and various other organ problems. Click here to read Dr. Weiner's blog post in its entirety.