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Richson: Raise awareness

BY BRIANNE RICHSON | MARCH 06, 2013 5:00 AM

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National Eating Disorders Awareness Week may have come to a close on March 2, but the reality is that eating disorders are a year-round, seven-days-a-week, stifling preoccupation for those who suffer from one.

Another reality: Many of those affected don’t even realize the cycle they have fallen into is classifiable as a disorder, largely because the fact that the most-prevalent eating disorder form, EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified), is a mishmash of not anorexia, not bulimia, but a detrimental equation of compulsive behaviors that often varies by victim.

“When does an eating disorder become an eating disorder?” said Eva Schoen, the assistant director for evaluation and research at the University Counseling Service.

The prevalence of eating disorders is generally much higher on a college campus, she said, where anxiety to maintain good grades, a social life, and a desirable outward appearance runs rampant.

“One of the hallmarks of an eating disorder is that it revolves around control,” Schoen said.

Because college is a time when so many things about the future feel uncertain, this unfortunately adds up.

What doesn’t add up, however, is that at a certain elusive point, an eating disorder transitions from control to obsession. The ability to control is lost to the addiction.

This is why awareness of eating disorders is so critical, because if they are not socially defined, how can people blinded by their compulsions begin to seek help?

A recent study conducted by the University of Michigan titled “U-SHAPE” reported that more than one half of surveyed students agreed they would “like” themselves more if they were thinner.

But, again, where’s the turning point between thinner and eating disorder? Is there one?

The study also found that almost 28 percent of the undergraduate females surveyed had an eating disorder, and of those who screened positive, nearly 82 percent had not sought treatment in the year leading up to the survey.

It may not even be clear to those students who did screen positive that they have a problem, as the line continues to be a blurry one.


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