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      Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents. One local teen shares her story.

      COLUMBIA (WACH)- Refusal to eat, denial of hunger, excessive exercise, frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, these are just some of the signs of an eating disorder. Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents. 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. 50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight and 80% of 13-year-olds have attempted to lose weight.

      These are all staggering and scary statistics that are continuing to rise. Midlands sixteen year old, Taylor Boyd suffered from an eating disorder and is now in recovery. There were days when Taylor would only eat gum and drink minimal water. Her lowest weight was 80 pounds. Her parents became concerned when she could hardly walk and slept twelve or more hours a day. Taylorâ??s family took her to see a physician and psychologist and she was then referred to the Hearth Center in Columbia. After treatment, Taylor says she is completely cured of her eating disorder. She also says she got rid of all the scales in her house.

      Dr. Timothy Brewerton is the Executive Medical Director at the Hearth Center. He has been studying eating disorders for more than thirty years and says he has seen the increase of the disease over the course of those years. He says that eating disorders are not what they once were thought of. They have become lethal mental diseases, causing many teens to become suicidal. He believes the media saturated world we live in, has teens seeking perfection. Not only does society play a major roll in teens quest to be thin, but also genetic and environmental factors as well.

      Kirsten Haglund, Miss America 2008 and Community Outreach Specialist for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, has struggled with her own eating disorder. At a young age, Kirsten was dancing hours upon hours every day as a ballerina. She felt the need to be thinner, to be a better ballerina. After getting treatment, Kirsten found she had a voice. She made eating disorder awareness her platform and won the title of Miss America. Today, she is a tireless advocate for increased awareness of eating disorders as a public health priority. She says, â??I think there will be a more open culture to find support to get treatment. You will see people living their lives full of recovery and an attitude that we can get better, stronger, from these things and we are not going to let society define beauty.â??

      We can only hope that our younger generations will fight against societyâ??s perception of beauty. It is stories such as Taylorâ??s and Kirstenâ??s that encourage those who struggle that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

      If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, find the nearest treatment center at

      You can contact the Hearth Treatment Center for Eating Disorders here in Columbia, South Carolina at

      If you are interested in learning more on Kirsten Haglund or Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, head over to or