NEDA says rate of eating disorders among college students has risen

By on November 14, 2017

Photo illustration by Christina Popik
Chelsea Kronengold, senior program associate from the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), said that it was found over a 13-year period that “the rate of eating disorders among college students has risen from over 7.9 percent to 25 percent for males and 23.4 percent to 32.6 percent for females.”

With these statistics, it is possible that many students at Quinnipiac University are in a similar situation.

Eating disorders are a growing problem on college campuses, according to Kronenhold. People with eating disorders often use controlled eating to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety and to feel more in control of their lives. She said that the increased pressures from social factors, relationships, academic achievements and the “freshman 15” are all contributors that are likely to make an eating disorder arise, resurface or even worsen in young men and women.

Kronengold said that one of the ways NEDA works with colleges and universities is “by encouraging schools to promote NEDA’s free online screening tool.”

This tool allows students to take a quick self-assessment which indicates if they are at risk for an eating disorder. From there, the students are able to talk with a counselor on campus or contact the NEDA helpline for options and support.

Not every student has access to therapists and institutions for healing. However, Sheila Van Den Broeck, with the Quinnipiac University Counseling Services, said Quinnipiac’s nursing staff supports thorough weight checks and giving feedback to the partial providers.

“We, the counselors, do assist with eating concerns and maladaptive binge or restrictive dieting with the objective of finding healthier options through coping,” Van Den Broeck said.

If the eating disorder is severe, they are referred to partial hospital programs in the community. Quinnipiac is holding an eating disorder awareness week in February, where they will have panel discussions with professionals from the area to help spread awareness and support for eating disorders.

Quinnipiac University has around 478 student-athletes according to the University’s website. Leaving plenty of room for any one of them to develop an eating disorder.

“Body image problems, disordered eating and full-blown eating disorders are common among athletes,” Kronengold said.

Kronengold expressed how important it is for not only family members and friends, but also coaches and trainers to be able to identify common symptoms.

NEDA offers toolkits on its website that guides people through the process of confronting a loved one about their disorders.

“One of our goals at NEDA is to provide information and resources for friends and families, said Kronengold. “Many treatment modalities recognize the importance of the family structure and incorporating loved ones.”

Kronengold said the best way to express concern for a loved one suffering from an eating disorder is through honesty.

“It is important to discuss their worries early on, rather than waiting until a person shows physical and emotional signs of a full-blown eating disorder,” she said.

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