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Eating Disorders On College Campuses Are On The Rise

college students

There’s a new report that suggests eating disorders are on the rise at college campuses throughout the country. In fact, studies say that an estimated 30 million Americans will struggle with some form of an eating disorder in their life, but more often than not, it will begin during their college years.

Research by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) says that eating disorders among college students have risen from 7.9 percent to 25 percent for men and 23 percent to 36 percent for women over a 13-year period. The reason? Many young students feel pressured to make friends, have romantic relationships and achieve their academic goals all within a short period of time. And with the fear of the “freshman 15” (in other words, gaining 15 pounds of added weight during their first year in college), many students adapt unhealthy coping mechanics which ultimately lead to unhealthy eating habits. College students are spending too much time comparing themselves to others and trying to fit in by looking “perfect,” so to speak.

Claire Mysko, CEO of NEDA puts it this way, “College is a period of development in which disordered eating is likely to arise, resurface, or worsen for many young men and women.”

Typically, many eating disorders can lead to anorexia, which is characterized by a distorted body image, with an unwarranted fear of being overweight. Many symptoms to look out for include trying to maintain a below normal weight through starvation or engaging in too much exercise.

college selfie
Credit: iStock / william87

Most eating disorders involve focusing too much on your weight, body shape, and food, leading to dangerous eating behaviors. These behaviors can significantly impact your body's ability to get appropriate nutrition.

Also, keep in mind that symptoms vary, depending on the type of eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder are the most common eating disorders. Other eating disorders include rumination disorder and avoidance/restrictive food intake disorder.

If you know someone who is in need of help, there’s hope. In some cases, medical treatment may be needed to restore normal weight. In addition, therapy can help with self-esteem issues and behavior changes. Symptoms can last for years or be lifelong but is usually self-diagnosable. With treatment, you can return to healthier eating habits and sometimes reverse serious complications caused by the eating disorder.

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