Austin, Texas Ally Smithknows first hand what is it like to live with...

In Austin, Texas a student knows first hand what is it like to live with an eating disorder in college. Now a senior at The University of Texas, Smith recounts the summer following sophomore year when she fell into a severe depression and lost her desire to eat.

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According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 91 percent of college women have attempted to control their weight through dieting. This obsession with dieting often leads to an eating disorder.

Twenty-five percent of college-aged women admit to bingeing and purging as a way of managing their weight. Of women with eating disorders, only one in 10 will receive treatment for their illness. Eating disorders are a growing problem amongst college women that must be addressed.

The National Eating Disorder Association reports that eating disorders amongst college students are on the rise with 10 to 20 percent of college women suffering from an eating disorder.

A recent study conducted by the association in partnership with 165 college campuses, including The University of Texas, concluded that more funding is needed to educate and treat eating disorders at universities.

It was a friend and fellow classmate who first voiced his concern for her. He approached the college student out of concern for her health instead of accusing her of having an illness and encouraging her to eat.

You have to approach it from a standpoint of you want to be healthy, she said. You wouldn't tell someone who has a broken leg hey, let's go walk.

A student from Florida also an eating disorder survivor. She attended The University of Florida for undergrad and later obtained a masters degree from UT. She believes that social media has played a major role in the increase of eating disorders amongst college women.

As awesome as technology is and as much as I can't imagine not having texting or Facebook or the Internet or anything else, it's just made problems like [eating disorders] worse, she said.

She also sees how a college student could develop an eating disorder without having their parents there to serve them breakfast, send them to school with lunch, and have dinner waiting for them when they come home.

As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, She does not know that you ever completely get over it. She admits to still reading nutrition labels and following a strict workout schedule.

A fifth year senior at UT, sees the rising problem of eating disorders on campus and knows the pressure that college women feel.

I think that in college a lot of girls think that they are expected to be the best and that it's the prime of their lives, he said. They want to look the best, and have boyfriends and meet their future husbands, so a lot of girls will go to the extreme to do whatever it takes to have the perfect body.

He believes that many people can provide help to a college student suffering from an eating disorder. She lists co-workers, friends from student organizations, and roommates as key players in identifying the issue. If she had a friend with an eating disorder, he said she would address the person directly and, if the illness continues, call their parents or another adult close to them.

A licensed Professional Counselor has some advice for students who want to approach a friend they believe has an eating disorder. She recommends that students try to get their peer into the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center anyway they can, even if it is to address other underlying issues like fighting with their parents.

She says that eating disorders are often an indication that a lot of other things are going on and that depression is often in eating disorders.

She acknowledges that approaching someone with an eating disorder can be difficult.

They might be resistant to acknowledging that it's an eating disorder to other people because that would mean they need treatment, she said.

If the situation is dire she recommends telling a peer, I really care about you. I'm worried about how much your mind is preoccupied with your body and food. You should go in and talk to someone.

University Health Services at UT provides several resources for college students struggling with an eating disorder including access to physicians, counselors, and a dietitian. There is also a checklist posted on their website that can be used to determine if a student or one of their peers has an eating disorder.

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Posted in Mental Health Post Date 01/08/2023






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