I would like to bring attention to the issue of eating disorders. An eating disorder is a dangerous, and sometimes life threatening mental condition. In other words, trying to get the fat off of your body in an unhealthy way. This can also lead to low self esteem, and health issues. Someone I knew had an eating disorder, and they almost died of weight loss. It was very difficult for me to watch this happen to this person.

Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents. Many people with eating disorders suffer from, and may possibly die from this sickness. Eating disorders are a very serious problem, but some people think it is just a phase teenage girls go through. According to ANRED "24 million people in the U.S. have potentially life threatening eating disorders," but may not completely understand how much danger they are putting themselves in." Teenage girls are more likely to develop eating disorders because of the media's image of a perfect woman as, a size zero to a size four and many girls think that this is the way that they need to look in order to be accepted.

"When you have an eating disorder you develop low self esteem, such as moodiness that is out of character, an increase of irritability or frustration, making it hard to take minor criticism." This means that you feel badly about yourself, have little patience, and don't easily take into consideration the critique of others.

Along with self esteem issues, depression is also common. People with depression find it hard to function on an everyday basis, and may be reluctant to participate in activities they once enjoyed. People with eating disorders are likely to experience a level of depression, one time or another" This means that when you are depressed you will no longer enjoy the activities you did before you developed your disorder.

There are many types of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and more. Anorexia is caused by self starvation and massive weight loss. When you have anorexia you don't eat for a long time, then you lose a lot of weight all at once. "Bulimia is characterized by a cycle of binging and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effect of binge eating." Bulimia is when you eat three daily meals, but then you force yourself to vomit up the food so you lose weight.

Eating disorders also cause health issues. If you lose enough weight it can become very unhealthy and even deadly. When you don't eat, your body gets weak and does not get the nourishment that it needs to be healthy and fight off illnesses. Severe dental issues can also occur when you have bulimia and make yourself vomit, because the acid can break down tooth enamel. According to the National Eating Disorder Association "Studies find that up to 89 percent of bulimic patients have signs of tooth erosion due to the effects of powerful stomach acid." Eating disorders are not uncommon. Some people think that eating disorders are not a big deal and not many people have that condition. Even if you don't know anyone who has this particular sickness, that does not mean that is is not a problem.

One reason that many people have eating disorders is because of the media's image of a perfect person which is why we need to show more images of normal men and women in television and magazine advertisements, because people believe that they need to look like these people. If the public demands to see normal looking men and women in the media, advertising their products, rather than thin models, perhaps people would get the message that it's more important to be healthy rather than thin.

People don't think that dieting is a big problem when kids and adults do it a lot of the time. People, and especially children, should not be worrying about their weight as long as they are a healthy weight. A healthy weight is different for everyone. You can talk to your doctor if you think you or your child has an eating disorder to find out what weight you or your child should be. Awareness of the issue is the first step towards recovery. If you suspect a person has an eating disorder, you should suggest they see a doctor or therapist.

I'm hoping this letter will help to educate the public about how dangerous eating disorders are. One way we can help prevent eating disorders is to get involved and to help other people seek help. Many people are getting sick and dying of eating disorders every day.

Lily Tessitore is a member of Julie Rosenberg's sixth-grade class at Academy School in Brattleboro. This is one in a series of letters submitted as part of a project organized by Rosenberg. Other letters will be printed as space allows.