NORFOLK This week is national Eating Disorder Awareness Week and state lawmakers are calling attention to the problem which affects some 24 million Americans.
Shannon Lloyd is a freshman at Virginia Tech. She's also a recovering anorexic and former pageant participant. She can relate to 17-year old Teresa Scanlan, the youngest winner of the Miss America pageant in more than 70 years. Scanlan devoted her platform to eating disorder awareness.
Lloyd is also working to spread the word.
'This is not a choice. Many people believe that eating disorders are a choice that someone makes: the choice not to eat anymore, but it isn't. It's a psychological disorder,' said Lloyd.
Virginia Senator Linda Puller is trying to bring more attention to the growing problem. She has introduced a bill to count the number of young people suffering from these disorders and to provide education programs to help with prevention.
The resolution has apparently been tabled; however, the House Speaker is expected to send a letter to the Joint Commission on Health Care requesting it proceeds with a study of the issue.
Carolyn Hersh is a local, licensed counselor who supports the bill.
'There are a lot of people that struggle with eating disorders,' Hersh said. 'I think the legislation would be really helpful in the sense that it might give us a better sense of how many and where and how we could better use resources.'