We live in a very weight conscious society. Like the rest of society, the pressures to look and remain thin seem to be at an all time high on college campuses. Advertisements on magazine covers at college bookstores are portraying young women as being beautiful only if they are slender, with long legs and thin arms. Men are portrayed as desirable if they are tall, have broad shoulders and are thin at the waist. College students across the country are on a mission to attain an "ideal figure" that is unrealistic for many and dangerous for many.
As a result of the quest for thinness, eating disorders have become very prevalent on college campuses. Some estimates suggest that 10 to 20 percent of college women suffer from some type of eating disorder. More men are also being identified as having an eating disorder. Eating disorders have traditionally been considered a "women's issue" which possibly has resulted in men not coming forward with concerns about their eating. Regardless of gender, eating disorders are a serious concern on college campuses throughout the nation.
What all eating disorders have in common is an obsession with food, weight, and appearance. The most common eating disorders found on campuses are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating. Anorexia is identified by extreme weight loss from food restriction and at times compulsive exercise. Anorexics have a distorted and unrealistic perception of their appearance. Despite their obvious thinness, they see themselves as being overweight. Bulimics are caught in a compulsive pattern of binging and purging food. Purging often includes self induced vomiting, the use of laxatives or diuretics. Binge eaters compulsively overeat. Overeating may be a way of coping with difficult emotions and experiences for binge eaters. Despite tending to be overweight, binge eaters share an obsession with food and unhappiness with their appearance.
If you think you might be struggling with an eating disorder, help is available in the form of psychotherapy, medical intervention and nutritional counseling. With the right kind of help, persons with eating disorders can stabilize their eating patterns, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce their obsession with food.
Contact BW's Health & Counseling Services 826-2180 if you suspect that you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder.