It is estimated that eight million Americans suffer from an eating disorder, and almost half of all Americans know someone who has one. An eating disorder is a type of mental illness characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. In today’s society, where men and women are expected to live up to impossible body standards and look like photo-shopped models, the pressure to look a certain way can almost be unbearable. People that suffer from eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating use unhealthy and even dangerous methods to lose weight, including, but not limited to, vomiting, dieting, skipping meals, and taking laxatives. Many people do not realize the severity of suffering from an eating disorder, including the afflicted individuals. Hearing about celebrities and models that only eat a cup of yogurt a day or “cleanse” before a movie or shoot normalizes this pathological behavior. Suffering from an eating disorder goes far beyond the desire to “be skinny”; it takes a mental, physical, and psychological toll on the person affected. Not surprisingly, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
One’s teenage and college years are an especially vulnerable time for someone to develop an eating disorder. An estimated 25% of college women engage in bingeing and purging to lose weight, and 50% of teenage girls engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors. Research on men and boys is not as easy to come by, as eating disorders have historically been seen as a “woman’s problem” and men who come forward can be stigmatized. The teenager/young adult years are an especially difficult time for people who suffer from self-esteem and body image issues, which increases the risk for developing this disorder. The majority of people who have an eating disorder do not seek treatment.*
In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Psyclub, Active Minds, and Delta Phi Epsilon are co-hosting a Panel on Positive Body Image and Eating Disorders this Thursday from 6-7 in 129 Hurtig. A group of three panelists will speak about their work and experience in this area:
-Dr. Debra Franko, Professor at Bouve College of Health Sciences and Associate Research Director of the Eating Disorders Clinical and Research Program and Consultant in Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital
-Genevieve Decatur, Staff Member at Project Heal
-Sarah Gaines, Founder of Fit University and DPhiE Alumni
This will be a supportive and educational space. If you are suffering/have suffered from an eating disorder or body image issues, know someone who is/has, or have are interested in the subject, this is the place to go.
*Statistics taken from eatingdisorderhope.com