NEDA: New cases of eating disorder on the rise

MICHIGAN — French actress and model Isabelle Caro wanted to become an influential figure for young women everywhere. She wanted to be seen on billboards, advertising for major companies, building a career for herself and earning a living to support her family.

Caro ultimately achieved that fame, but very few would have guessed that her notoriety would have come from her sunken eyes, her thin, dry hair and her bones, which protruded out of her skin and gave her a fragile, sickly look.

In short, Caro had become a human skeleton. Her fame consisted of anti-anorexia campaigns, during which she used her body as an example of how girls shouldn’t look.

While it seems that obesity is on the rise nationally, as one of the most trending topics in recent American media history, it might surprise the average person to hear that eating disorders formed to achieve a thinner figure have also increased dramatically.

As National Eating Disorders Awareness Week comes to an end, the facts and chilling stories of people affected by eating disorders like Caro cannot be forgotten.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. The predominant motivation to lose weight occurs because of body dissatisfaction.

In many cases, eating disorders attack people in vulnerable times of their lives, forming among young girls and college students. While many colleges are taking steps to prevent the formation and maintenance of eating disorders among their students, the number of students affected by eating disorders is still increasing.

In fact, NEDA states that the rate of development of new cases of eating disorders has been increasing since 1950, with the incidence of bulimia, an eating disorder which involves binge eating and then vomiting or ejecting the food out of the body immediately afterward, tripling between 1988 and 1993.

Ferris State University, which serves more than 14,000 students, has focused on keeping its students comfortable with their bodies and aware of their dining options. Its dining services has evolved throughout the years to accommodate the number of diets and varying health issues which could make students want to avoid public dining and, possibly, eating altogether.

“We deal with this stuff all the time,” said Thomas Pizzo, assistant director of dining services manager at Ferris student dining venue The Rock Cafe. “We have an online menu that is customizable to fit students’ diets.”

Registered dietitians also help students come up with healthy food choices, which are serviced at on-campus dining options like The Rock, which uses fresh ingredients and food daily.

Even though they have been evolving with the times, offering students more options for food choices to prevent binge eating or not eating at all, the number of colleges facing increased quantities of students affected by eating disorders has increased, especially in females.

“By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape,” NEDA states. “Forty to 60 percent of elementary school girls (ages 6 through 12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.”

For Caro, who died in 2010 from complications raised from her lifetime of eating disorders, the thoughts of being thin never left her mind. NEDA emphasizes the need for prevention, treating the problem before it arises, to keep young people safe from a lifetime of influences from eating disorder and unhealthy thinking.

Therapy, school programs and reading information are all ways in which parents can protect their children from getting an eating disorder. High levels of body dissatisfaction can easily become the first warning signs for an eating disorder.

For more information on NEDA and eating disorders, visit nationaleatingdisorders.org.

 

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Posted by Elizabeth Badovinac

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