College Leads to Bigger Waist Lines

Eating disorders often develop at college

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The change from high school to college can be exciting but stressful. The stress can be too much for some women and even men. This along with other factors can lead to an eating disorder.

Over 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Kids being thrown into the new college life worry about grades, finances and relationships. Living on their own for the first time adds even more problems. These combined stresses and freedom can cause some to be at higher risk for developing an eating disorder.

"If you feel yourself spiraling out of control, seek help now."

Mary Boggiano, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in eating disorders at the University of Alabama, says college life is a drastic change for many young adults. The new life, worries and freedom to eat anything they want can trigger an eating disorder for men and women, she adds.

It’s going to be hard for anyone to admit having an eating disorder, but men are especially tough to crack because they view eating disorders as a female problem, Boggiano comments.

There are over a million men in the United States alone that are anorexic or bulimic and 40 percent of known cases of binge-eating disorders are men.

Family, friends and students should be aware that nutrition and counseling resources are available on many campuses, Boggiano explains. Friends and family should watch out for common warning signs:

  • Talking negatively about body image
  • Eating small meals or skipping altogether
  • Making excuses for not eating
  • Noticeable weight loss or weight changes
  • Moodiness, irritability and shutting people out/ being isolated

If you suspect a friend or family member to have an eating disorder, talk to them about it – don’t be afraid because many people want help but are afraid to ask, Boggano says. Maybe start with reasons why you think they have an eating disorder or ask if they’re concerned about body size, she adds.

If they are unwilling to seek help from a professional or anyone and the problem continues, then give them an ultimatum – seek help or move out or end the friendship ends. Tough love is better than having to sit around and watch a loved one die from the disorder, Boggiano says.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 17, 2011
Last Updated:
August 18, 2011