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Eating Disorders On College Campuses- What You Need to Know

Last week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Eating disorders are an extremely important topic, since they often affect college females.

Here are some statistics from the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders:

  • 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.”
  • Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.
  • 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.8
  • 25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.
  • The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.
  • Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
  • In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight.

As you can see, eating disorders on college campuses are prevalent problems. They are also more dangerous than many people realize, having a higher mortality rate than any other cause of death in females age 15-24.

It is critical for everyone to be aware of the signs of an eating disorder. This can help you determine if you, your friend, or your roommate have a problem. Often something positive, such as eating healthy and exercising regularly, can be brought to an extreme and turn into a disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, here are some indicators of an eating disorder:

  • Skipping meals or making excuses for not eating
  • Adopting an overly restrictive vegetarian diet
  • Excessive focus on healthy eating
  •  Making own meals rather than eating what the family eats
  • Withdrawing from normal social activities
  • Persistent worry or complaining about being fat and talk of losing weight
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws
  • Repeatedly eating large amounts of sweets or high-fat foods
  • Use of dietary supplements, laxatives or herbal products for weight loss
  • Excessive exercise
  • Calluses on the knuckles from inducing vomiting
  • Problems with loss of tooth enamel that may be a sign of repeated vomiting
  • Leaving during meals to use the toilet
  • Eating much more food in a meal or snack than is considered normal
  • Expressing depression, disgust, shame or guilt about eating habits
  • Eating in secret

Worried that you or a friend has a problem? There are plenty of resources on campus. You can contact any of the following services:

Health Services (401) 232-6220

Counseling Services (401) 232-6045

Campus Ministry (401) 232-6712

Hochberg Women’s Center 

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