Jazz Jennings says ‘substantial’ weight gain due to binge-eating disorder

(NEW YORK) — Reality TV star and transgender activist Jazz Jennings revealed on Instagram that she is battling binge-eating disorder , writing that she is sharing her story to hold herself “accountable.”

“As many of you have noticed, over the past few years, I have gained a substantial amount of weight,” Jennings wrote, also posting side-by-side photos of herself. “I suffer from binge-eating disorder, a disease in which I’m not only addicted to food, but I eat it in large quantities.”

Jennings, who underwent gender confirmation surgery in 2018, wrote that the disorder, along with side effects from some of the medications she takes, has led her to gain nearly 100 pounds in less than two years.

“I’m posting this photo because it’s time for me to address my weight gain and hold myself accountable. I’m ready to change my ways; I’ve been saying I’m ready to turn over a new leaf, but I’m running out of trees now,” she wrote. “I’m ready to take the initiative and create positive changes when it comes to my health and body.”

“I know I have the power in me to lose the weight, and I intend on sharing my progress with all of you. Love you all, and thanks for understanding the battle I’m fighting to win,” Jennings ended her post.

Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, according to the National Eating Disorder Association.

The disorder is characterized by episodes of eating large quantities of food, often quickly and to the point of discomfort, and often using “unhealthy compensatory measures (like purging) to counter the binge eating,” according to NEDA. Binge eating is often accompanied by feeling of a loss of control during the binge and feeling shame, distress or guilt afterwards.

Jennings, who has more than 1 million followers on Instagram, received support for her honesty with her fans.

“THE VULNERABILITY IS BREATHTAKING!! I love this post and you so much! Thank you for speaking on this,” wrote one commenter.

“Jazz, I sat alongside you at the VS panel. I too suffered from binge eating disorder but am now fully recovered. Please reach out i[f] you need a friend who’s been through it 🙂 thanks for sharing with us! You are so awesome!,” wrote Victoria Garrick, a former college athlete who now speaks about mental health and her eating disorder recovery.

About 9% of the U.S. population — almost 29 million people — will have an eating disorder in their lifetime, according to a 2020 study conducted by Harvard’s Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders. Those numbers are on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, NEDA reported a spike of more than 70% in the number of calls and online chat inquiries to its hotline compared to the same time period last year.

“Eating disorders are very complex mental health issues with a strong relation to anxiety, depression, past histories of trauma and substance abuse,” NEDA CEO Claire Mysko told Good Morning America in February. “We really need to talk about them as part of this mental health crisis.”

If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or NationalEatingDisorders.org.

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