The college environment is full of many positive experiences for students. But pressures from stress, peers, the media and a desire to conform can negatively affect a student’s self-perception.
Having a negative body image is a major contributor to the development of disordered eating behavior, especially among college students. When dieting and exercising become a preoccupation, students can easily be distracted from their studies.
More than two-thirds of American women are dissatisfied with their bodies and, on college campuses, 60-90 percent of young women are dieting or trying to lose weight, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Around 10% of college females are even engaging in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.
Eating disorders are not just a women’s issue; approximately 10 percent of those with eating disorders are men. Many young men are also struggling with compulsive exercising and/or abusing supplements or steroids.
For these reasons, campus partners including the CSU Health Network, Campus Recreation, Women and Gender Advocacy Center, Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center, Associated Students of CSU and others are coming together to plan a week of events from Feb. 23- 27 to promote Body Acceptance – because one size never fits all.
Students can support one another in many ways:
- Encourage healthy exercise and self-care instead of overemphasizing weight gains or losses
- Do your best to model body acceptance
- Listen for excessive complaints about body weight/shape, fat talk etc.
- Watch out for strict rituals relating to food and eating, excuses to avoid meal times, and rigid exercise routines even when sick or injured.
The College Environment and Eating Disorders Risk
Many aspects of the college environment unfortunately can contribute to eating disorders. Be aware of the following factors:
- The belief that appearance is the key to success in attracting potential dating partners
- Access to unlimited food in the dining halls
- Fear of the dreaded “Freshman 15”
- Academic and financial stress
- Participation in sports where weight and appearance are perceived to affect success
- Some students may resort to eating disorders as a way of coping with the stress associated with the transition to college and the expectations of a new environment
- Other students may develop eating disorders as a way of coping with the stress of impending college graduation and the changes implied in that transition.
*Retrieved from Southern Connecticut State University.