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Presentation addresses rising campus problem, dangers of eating disorders
Kylie Tielke
Antelope Staff
Photo from Internet
Eating disorder trends are increasing and the main causes of them come from genetics, trauma, emotional factors and other negative influences.

“Nationally, 5 to 10 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men struggle with an eating disorder,” said Peg Miller-Evans from the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center during a vital presentation to students about prevention, treatment and early warning signs of various eating disorders. The event, sponsored by the Phi Alpha social work honor society, attracted over 100 students.

“I think we need to bring awareness to the problem and for individuals to have resources as to what to do,” said Jody Van Laningham, associate professor of social work.

According to Van Laningham, eating disorders are a rising issue on campus and the presentation was to benefit the campus community.

“We simply do not have enough time in our classes to address the issue and it needs to be addressed. For example, the recent incident at Wayne State College,” Van Laningham said.

“Eating disorders have always been on college campuses, just not addressed. You’re vulnerable and disorders are now more mainstream with the media and people not taking it seriously. Students need to know about it, they are vulnerable and it’s a serious issue,” Miller-Evans said.

To begin the presentation Miller-Evans used vivid pictures of an overweight individual to explain how people with an eating disorder feel.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 16.4 percent of females and 10.1 percent of males who were underweight were trying to lose weight.

Miller-Evans asked the crowd, “How many people of you know one person who doesn’t say ‘Oh, I ate good today. I had a salad’ or ‘Oh, I am going to be bad today and eat a cookie?’”

No one raised their hand.

“I know one person who has a healthy relationship with food, one person. This is what the western culture has done to us,” Miller-Evans said.

According to Miller-Evans, the reason to worry is that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder because so many complications come along with it, including heart failure or suicide.

“The treatment is the hardest. It takes about 2 to 6 weeks, and then I tell my patients they need to plan on another 6 to 12 months to recover. Unlike an alcoholic who can theoretically avoid drinking, someone with an eating disorder must sit down three times a day and face the enemy,” Miller-Evans said.

According to Miller-Evans, some main causes of eating disorders include genetics, trauma, emotional factors and other negative influences.

“A cause could be when two people have a fight and one person calls the other person the ‘f’ word, that is a cause,” Miller-Evans said.

Some warning signs of eating disorders are restricting food, bingeing or purging, isolation, feeling depressed or when they have a negative body image and self-esteem. Preventions include eating, drinking, sleeping and having a positive self-esteem and self-efficacy or belief that you can make a difference.  

“What we know about eating disorders is that it is not just one thing, it’s everything. You have to be able to worry to develop a disorder. Many think if they are skinny, they will be happy. There is just a lot of magic that comes along with being thin,” Miller-Evans said.

Video by Sarah Ahlers

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