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Finding the Right Words to Say: AED Releases Infographic on Using Sensitive and Medically Appropriate Language in the Eating Disorders Community

In an effort to reduce the stigma associated with eating disorders, the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) recently released an infographic based on an article written by multiple current or former editors and associate editors of the International Journal of Eating Disorders (IJED), “Speaking of That: Terms to Avoid or Reconsider in the Eating Disorders Field.” The authors of Speaking of That created a streamlined version of 50 relevant psychological and psychiatric terms that should be avoided in the eating disorders community. Reasons for suggested language changes include that commonly used terms may muddy scientific writing and inadvertently bolster further stigmatization of individuals diagnosed with eating disorders.

Scientifically accurate and sensitive language can help reduce stigma and increase help-seeking. The authors offer more precise and sensitive language as alternatives to these terms that have been inappropriately culturally sanctioned. According to Dr. Jennifer J. Thomas, Ph.D., one of the co-authors of the paper and current associate editor of IJED, “Words are powerful because they shape our thinking. For example, calling someone ‘an anorexic’ suggests that the illness is part of who the person is. Calling the same person ‘an individual with anorexia nervosa’ separates the person from the illness. This subtle shift highlights the possibility that the individual can recover."

In an effort to increase the reach of Speaking of That, the AED also released “Eating Disorders Community: Your Words Can Be the Difference Between Stigma and Support.” The document graphically depicts the terms and phrases to avoid as described in the article and also offers suggestions as to which terms or phrases to use instead. By offering this infographic for free as a community resource on their website, the AED hopes to help reduce stigma by helping patients, caretakers, community members, and clinicians find supportive instead of diminishing words to say about eating disorders.

DOWNLOAD IMAGE HERE:  www.aedweb.org/images/AED-Language-ED_Full_NEW-Flyer_03.08.17-d.pdf