disorders are potentially life-threatening illnesses that affect millions of
individuals in our society. The good news is that prompt intensive treatment
can significantly improve the chance of individuals recovering from these
illnesses. For this reason, it is important to be aware of symptoms and warning
signs of eating disorders, as well as know the resources available to support
individuals in need.
Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) provides a thorough explanation of eating
disorders, stating "Eating disorders are real, complex, and devastating
conditions that can have serious consequences for health, productivity, and
relationships. They are not a fad, phase or lifestyle choice. Eating disorders
are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person's
emotional and physical health."
Below is an
overview of the most commonly identified eating disorders.
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by
self-starvation and excessive weight loss. Due to the fact that the body is
denied the essential nutrients it needs to survive and function normally, it
begins to slow down to conserve energy. This can have life threatening
consequences for the individual with this illness.
Symptoms include but are not limited
Warning signs include but are not limited to:
Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by a
cycle of binges and purges. Individuals struggling with this illness will
utilize compensatory behaviors such as the use of laxatives, excessive
exercising, and self-induced vomiting to undo or compensate the effects of
binge eating. This illness can be harmful to the body and can cause damage to
the digestive system, heart, and other major organs.
Binge eating is an eating disorder characterized by
recurrent binge eating. The effects of this illness are often associated with
health risks related to clinical obesity. Potential health consequences include
high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, heart disease, diabetes,
gallbladder disease, and musculoskeletal problems.
Below is a
list of common myths associated with eating disorders. Unfortunately the
perpetuation of these myths increase stigma of these illnesses and prevent
individuals from seeking necessary treatment for these potentially
life-threatening illnesses. You can
educate yourself on the facts and share this information with others to help
create an environment where those who are struggling with an eating disorder
can feel safe enough to seek services and support.
Myth: "College women
are a low risk group for eating disorders."
Fact: Actually, college women are
considered a high risk group for developing eating disorders. The Collegiate
Survey Project, Eating Disorders on the College Campus: A National Survey of
Programs and Resources found that the rate of eating disorders among college
students has risen to 10 - 20 percent of women.
Females have eating disorders."
Fact: The Collegiate Survey Project found that the rate of eating disorders among college students has risen
to 4 - 10 percent of men.
people don't face discrimination."
Fact: Individuals that are overweight face
discrimination due to their physical characteristics. In the United States,
extreme thinness is a social and cultural ideal. This unhealthy obsession
around thinness is one of many contributors to the high rates of eating
disorders in the United States.
Myth: "People who are of a 'normal weight' cannot have eating disorders."
Fact: Eating disorders are not determined
by the size and weight of an individual. In fact, many individuals with eating
disorders are of average, or even above average, weight.
Myth: "Only people with mental illnesses can develop eating disorders."
Fact: Eating disorders are believed to be
caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and socio-cultural
factors. Eating disorders can develop in anyone, regardless of their mental
Myth: "Eating disorders can't be fatal."
Fact: Over the course of one person's
lifetime, at least 50,000 individuals will die as a result of eating disorders.
Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
Myth: "It is extremely difficult to detect
the symptoms of an eating disorder in another person."
Fact: While it is not uncommon for
individuals with an eating disorder to keep their illness a secret, by being
aware of signs and symptoms, bystanders are better prepared to detect eating
disorders in other individuals. If you believe that someone you know exhibits
signs of an eating disorder, help is available.
intensive treatment can significantly improve the chance of an individual
recovering from an eating disorder. Below is a list of campus and community
resources available to IUP students.
The Center for Health and Well-Being provides an online screening for anxiety,
depression, alcohol, and eating disorders. This free screening is made
available to all IUP students and is taken anonymously. The screening is
provided so that you may find out – in a few minutes – whether or not
professional consultation would be helpful to you.
Faculty members in the Counseling Center are available to
handle the needs of students in crisis during regular office hours, Monday
through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–noon and 1:00–4:30 p.m. Students in crisis may
come to the Counseling Center at any time during these hours; however, you should visit the Counseling Center website for up-to-date walk-in hours and learn about their services.
Nutrition Connection is a free service to IUP students
concerned about healthy eating habits, fitness, weight management,
nutrition-related medical problems, or eating disorders.
The Health and Wellness Promotion program encourages students to make
healthy lifestyle choices, advocates for a campus community that supports
students’ well-being, and provides intervention and referrals to meet students'
health needs. Through peer education programs and AWAREness campaigns, students
can learn how to develop lifestyles that promote lifelong wellness.
Sources: American Psychological Association,
National Eating Disorder Association,
The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness
Disclaimer: This site is a resource for IUP students. It is not
intended to replace consultation with your medical providers. IUP Health Service staff members are available to
treat and give medical advice to IUP students. Visit the IUP Health Service website for more information.
Visit our resource
library for more information.
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