Eating Disorders Among College Students

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Eating Disorders Among College Students

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Once people begin to attend college, they become more susceptible to developing eating disorders. According to the Child Mind Institute, anorexia and bulimia are the disorders most likely to be developed. The institute says factors such as “increased workload, less structure, and more focus on peers often lead to eating disorders.”

When prevalent issues like anxiety, depression, low self esteem, and learning differences also enter the mix, the likelihood of eating dysfunction increases. Children who have struggled with perfectionism and needing control before attending college are at greater risk for developing eating disorders. College dining halls provide a wealth of food to students, which can affect their ability to maintain self control. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 35% of dieters eventually progress into unhealthy dieting. Of those people, 20-25% develop full syndrome eating disorders. When unhealthy dieting is pursued with enough regularity, the behavior becomes diagnosed as an eating disorder. This situation is dangerous, difficult to manage, and begins to consume its victims’ lives. Such disorders are extremely serious, because they can be fatal. Our society associates eating disorders with a stereotypical teenage female. The reality is that men are also insecure and impacted by their environment.

It is also important to consider how “healthy” someone who is obese really is, once they’ve begun losing weight. Their habits could be very detrimental, yet they are less likely to seek help due to encouragement and positive feedback on their weight loss from those around them.

There are many complex forms of eating disorders which do not solely pertain to restriction. Aside from body image issues, people take on poor eating habits to have a sense of control over something or form an external cry for help. You can not assume what issues someone is facing based on their appearance or how they manage their lives, but if you’ve noticed someone in your life acting unusually, bring up the subject  delicately without being overbearing and confrontational. It will be their decision to open up or not; forcing the issue will only make them avoid you. Try to make yourself a comfort to whomever may need it. If this article hits especially close to home for you, please find a trusted individual you can turn to for help.