Rates of eating disorders increasing among college students

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The prevalence of eating disorders is increasing; according to Sue Thorn, director of marketing and communications for the Screening for Mental Health, Inc., 32 percent of college women and 25 percent of college men nationwide suffer from an eating disorder.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, eating disorders are complex conditions that stem from long-term behavioral, biological, psychological and social factors. Sufferers of eating disorders tend to use their control of food to cope with feelings of inadequacy, depression, anxiety, societal pressures and other negative factors.

There are four primary types of eating disorders according to the association:

1. Anorexia nervosa is an obsession and fear of gaining weight which leads to severe restrictions of caloric intake and weight gain.

2. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by frequent episodes of over eating, followed by weight gain prevention methods – such as vomiting or using laxatives.

3. Binge eating disorder occurs when a person experiences frequent episodes of out-of-control food binges followed by feelings of shame.

4. The final category, eating disorder not otherwise specified, results from having an eating disorder that causes significant stress or impairment yet does not meet the criteria for a specific eating disorder.

For students who are struggling with a eating disorder, Lafene Health Center and Counseling Services offer an on-campus team approach to health care. Lafene provides an online anonymous self-screening, offers assessments and can provide necessary medical intervention with their on-staff medical providers and dietitians, while Counseling Services can help identify and offer solutions for underlying causes of an eating disorder.

K-State sophomore J.C.* began suffering from anorexia nervosa at age 17 when she began training for a marathon.

“It lasted for over a year and a half,” J.C. said. “I became weak and sickly looking all the time; my hair even began to fall out. The worst part were the strains it put in my life with my family, friends and boyfriend.”

By the end of that year and a half, she had stopped getting her period, decided to stop training for the marathon and turned to her friends for help, who convinced her to see a doctor.

“(The doctor) explained to me that it was important for me to slowly gain back my weight and not try to binge eat to get back to a normal healthy weight,” J.C. said. “With the help of my friends and family I’m back to a healthy weight and maintaining it by working out and eating healthy instead of starving myself. I still remember to indulge occasionally, because no matter what my weight I’ve learned to be happy with myself because I know that I am beautiful no matter what.”

The WellCAT Ambassadors, a campus organization sponsored by Lafene, strive to peer educate students on health and wellness related topics such as alcohol, drugs and healthy habits, according to Dayna Pachta, senior in dietetics and WellCAT Ambassdor president.

As a part of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, WellCAT Ambassadors are sponsoring “Fit to be Me Week” to promote positive body image. Fit to be Me Week events are scheduled every day this week, and remaining events are as following:

Wednesday

“Zumba your way to Better Body Image:” 7-8 p.m., Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex

Thursday

“From Body Hater to Body Celebrator,” featuring Amber Krzys: 7-8 p.m., Little Theater, K-State Student Union

Friday

“Dance Like Everyone is Watching:” 7-8 p.m., Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex, Studio 2

*This student’s name has been changed for confidentiality reasons.

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