Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia affect about 11 million Americans.

A Friday conference in Philadelphia will bring together health-care professionals, researchers and policymakers to discuss a public health approach to eating disorder prevention. Participants will examine how and where messages about eating disorders should be spread to reach as many people as possible, and how to keep the information consistent.

The conference is hosted by "A Chance to Heal" a Philadelphia nonprofit dedicated to combating eating disorders. Executive director Carolyn Rammel said having a conversation around this issue is key.

“Treatment is very, very expensive when it comes to eating disorders. The incidence of recovery is low. So, everybody in our community, have a conversation,” she said. “That is one the greatest ways that we as a community can really work to prevent this deadly disease from affecting any more of our children."

Rammel added that when parents, neighbors, educators or coaches notice that a child is not eating, losing weight, or exercising excessively, they should raise the issue.

Right now, the public focus is on obesity, but eating disorders should be part of the national discourse on people's relationship with food, said Rammel.

“There are more common elements than there are opposite elements. So, as a country, we need to have that conversation come together more," she said.

Other topics at the conference will focus on eating disorder treatments and advocacy for prevention.