weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Walk at Las Vegas park aids group for those with eating disorders

Summerlin resident Katie Fiorillo, 26, was 17 when she was diagnosed with anorexia. Overwhelmed by the combined stress of high school, extracurricular activities and applying for colleges, she started eating less and less, withdrawing from family and friends, losing a significant amount of weight.

“I definitely saw something wrong,” Fiorillo said. “I just wasn’t sure what it was. I always kind of had those underlying perfectionism type beliefs and self-doubting, so it almost seemed normal to me. After I started health-wise not doing as well, I realized it might be worse than I thought. I just didn’t feel like doing anything. I wasn’t interested in activities I usually was. I just thought it was going to be my life.”

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that causes people to obsess about weight and what they eat — and to view themselves as overweight even if they are significantly underweight. Fiorillo started seeing an outpatient therapist and dietitian after her diagnosis and slowly worked to overcome the disease. But even after visiting a residential treatment center in her home state of Florida, she still struggled.

“There’s no one thing that fixes it,” Fiorillo said. “It’s definitely more of a gradual process versus one thing that kind of just clicks and you feel better, which is what I always felt it would be like. … It takes a lot of time. The recovery is a really long process. Being patient is the most important thing. It’s scary. Not a lot of people talk about it, and it’s hard to get the support that you need both medically and therapy-wise just because there aren’t lot of people that specialize in it.”

Fiorillo moved to Las Vegas from Florida a little over a year ago. After a 10-year battle with anorexia, she’s finally in a place where she’s ready to give back, she said. This year, she’s organizing the third National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Walk in Las Vegas, set for 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

“Vegas is very much lacking in the eating disorder community,” Fiorillo said. “So I think it’s really important to begin that community of people even if it’s just once a year.”

Samantha Corey of Summerlin, a friend of Fiorillo’s, was 14 when she noticed a change in her mood and a drastic drop in weight. She’d recently moved to the Las Vegas Valley from Denver and thought nothing of it, as she was a dancer in school, and teachers were accustomed to seeing students lose weight. She was diagnosed with anorexia soon after.

“For me, it started out as me just wanting to eat healthy,” Corey, 21, said. “I took a health class and they had a unit on nutrition. That’s when I first started looking at what I was eating. From there, it spiraled out of control. I got into this habit of focusing on calories. Over time, it just got more and more obsessive. I became isolated. I wanted to spend more time alone didn’t want to go to functions; didn’t even want to go to my dance events. I didn’t have the energy for it.”

Due to the lack of facilities in the Las Vegas area, Corey said, she was sent to a facility back in Denver. She organized the first NEDA walk in 2014 and has since advocated to raise awareness of eating disorders in Las Vegas.

“My family was shocked by the lack of treatment centers here,” Corey said. “And I ended up going out of state because there was no facility in Vegas for it. I just feel the walk is the first step in opening up people’s eyes to what Las Vegas needs as far as psychological treatment, dietitians … everything that’s encompassed in recovery.”

According to NEDA’s website, anorexia is the third-most-common chronic disease among youth, after asthma and Type 1 diabetes. People ages 15-24 with anorexia have 10 times the risk of dying compared with their same-aged peers.

“Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses,” said Dr. Lindsey Ricciardi, an eating disorders specialist who has an outpatient facility in southwest Las Vegas. “A lot of those have to do with suicide, but most are from cardiac arrest. Most people who have eating disorders you could never tell by looking at them, and that’s a huge problem in our training; we’re looking for that severely emaciated person, when many of my clients look like the cover of a health-and-fitness magazine.”

Ricciardi has worked with people suffering from eating disorders for over 10 years and has seen hundreds of cases in the Las Vegas area. She currently has about 20 patients. On Sunday, she’ll walk in honor of a former patient who died.

“I don’t think people understand the reality of it,” Ricciardi said. “Her death began with a diet that started 20 years ago. It became an obsession. She died on the way driving to Utah to go to residential treatment center. She was trying to get help.”

Contact Mia Sims at msims@reviewjournal.com. Follow @miasims___ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)