At least one out of 10 adolescent women have reported symptoms of an eating disorder at this moment. Some of the most dominant eating disorders to the public eye are binge eating, an intake of excessive amounts of food for non-nutrition purposes, anorexia, starving one’s body of nutrition purposefully, and bulimia, purging oneself.
So who is more prone to these symptoms in a college-aged environment? Basically everyone, according to Judith Baker, a therapist who treats anorexia and bulimia.
“Eating disorders are complex, mental and physical illnesses that arise from a combination of environmental and genetic factors,” she explained.
“Although there isn’t a particular gene linked to eating disorders, there are personality traits that can create a vulnerability,” Baker said.
She said eating disorders are transcendent and can’t be linked to just one gender or race.
“People of either gender or sexual persuasion, age and ethnicity can develop eating disorders,” Baker said.
Students had different opinions about their peers developing a disorder, however.
Mindy Nafziger explained that she thinks students are “more prone because there is more pressure around them to be perfect or pretty.”
While peer pressure was on her mind, convenience was on Rommel Gabrito’s.
“[Students are]less prone because of all the people I know, they’ve all gained weight due to meal plans and availability of food,” Gabrito said.
It appears there are different opinions on the factors that determine eating disorders, which may lead to creating a few of the many stereotypes that are involved with anorexia and bulimia.
“The most devastating stereotype associated with eating disorders is that eating disorders are a choice,” Baker said. “Eating disorders involve a perfect storm of neurophysiological and psychological factors.”
Not to mention, these disorders are more serious than some may think.
“These illnesses have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder,” Baker said. “Trauma, mood disorders, and substance abuse are often involved.”
Anorexia and bulimia can no longer be swept under the rug.
“It is important to confront the issue,” she advised. “Family and friends must intervene to save the person’s life.”
Though, because the issues are a sensitive matter, doctors recommend speaking to a therapist before confronting a friend or family member about their disorder.
Help with an intervention for a friend or family member can be found at Snow Health Center at Eastern Michigan University.
Snow offers free, confidential counseling and even group therapy and workshops for those suffering.