ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- It's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
"The need [for change] is very much there, [but] the change is very slow to happen," says Carolyn Hodges Chaffee, CEO of Upstate New York Eating Disorder Service.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, more than 30-milliion Americans will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime.
Millions more will battle food and body image issues.
"It's scary when you look at the statistics," says Chaffee. "A lot of people don't understand they have an eating problem because there's so much push to lose weight, be at a lower BMI. So they use unhealthy behaviors to get there, but they don't actually realize it's disordered."
As one of the region's only treatment centers, Upstate New York Eating Disorder Service helps between three and four-hundred patients at a time.
Over the past few years, experts say not only are the number of children they're seeing on the rise, but also the types of disorders they're treating. For example what's known as Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder--an early sign of a larger issue and a common one amongst children.
"Basically it's picky eaters," says Chaffee. 'These individuals end up malnourished, and then eventually end up in eating disordered behaviors."
Experts say acting on any concerns you may have for a loved one can make the biggest difference.
"If you're concerned someone may be struggling with food, then more than likely they are,"says Chaffee. "Instead of thinking they'll outgrow it, you really want them to get help as soon as possible so the brain doesn't end up being effected and it doesn't end up being a very resistant disorder to treat."
For more information on Eating Disorder Awareness, visit the National Eating Disorder Association website.
Treatment options are available locally through Upstate New York Eating Disorder Service.