The silent epidemic on college campus: eating disorders

Hailey Steidle, Staff writer

As we enter into February  it’s important for people to  recognize the epidemic of  eating disorders on college campuses.
February is national eating disorder awareness month which comes with quite a few stigmas.
Many think that eating disorders are talked about too much, or that by talking about them it glorifies them, however the truth of the matter is that
eating disorders are not spoken about nearly enough.Do you as a college student know the average age that eating disorders start for most individuals? If not, the answer is freshman year of college. Do you know what resources are available to you or your friends and loved ones? Do you know what signs to look out for among those around you? Or are you yourself dealing with disordered eating and not even realizing it?
Roughly 1 in 10 college students experience an eating disorder or disordered eating during their time at college. A major factor for this is the environment that many colleges create on a day-to-day basis that many are not used to.
An excuse to skip a meal is suddenly incredibly easy to come by now that individuals do not have to have sit down meals with their family. Now students can use excuses like having too much homework, being too stressed or even wanting to be able to get drunk quicker.

Students are dealing with new social settings and friends, they are living independently for the first time in their lives, they are able to make their own decisions about the meals they eat and not have to answer to anyone.
For many, these major life changes can cause a multitude of stressors and anxiety as well as causes for new mental illnesses that many struggle to
work through.

Because of these factors eating is the last thing on many people’s minds, or it becomes the only thing that they can think about.
A major struggle with awareness for eating disorders on college campuses is the definition of an eating disorder. It only allows for a very narrow window of things to be considered an “eating disorder,” rather than disordered eating.
Things such as bulimia or binge eating are often not spoken about or not considered real issues when compared to things like anorexia.
This line of thinking is extremely harmful when you take into account the fact that everyone deserves help, and if people are only looking out for
one kind of eating disorder in their friends or if individuals do not even consider what they are doing an eating disorder, then they may never get the help they truly want and need.
Many college campuses do not provide nearly enough awareness or help for those struggling. A plethora of options are available to colleges if they
choose to listen to those who need it most.
They can encourage campus counselors to get proper training in eating disorders, set up 24-hour crisis hotlines on campus where students can call
to receive help whenever they need it and most importantly they can better educate their students on what to look out for in their friends.
If anyone is going to recognize what is going on and be able to get you in contact with someone who can help, it is going to be those closest to you,
and on college campuses that is often the people you surround yourself with every day.
If you or someone you know are dealing with an eating disorder, you are not alone; resources are available to you. Reach out to the counseling
center or the 24/7 eating disorder hotline: (866) 884-6139