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National Eating Disorders Association Announces Results Of College Survey

Posted Feb 25 2013 4:40pm

Results Show Significant Unmet Needs for Resources on Campuses to Help Prevent & Treat Eating Disorders

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Feb. 24 – March 2

newspaper As it launches its 26th annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAwareness Week) campaign, Feb. 24-March 2, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) released today the results of a recent survey conducted on college campuses.

The Collegiate Survey Project – which was approved by Pace University’s Institutional Review Board – finds that greater funding and resources are needed on college campuses to educate, screen and treat students struggling with eating disorders. The study was launched in response to the volume of requests NEDA receives for information about eating disorder-related services on campuses, as the rate of eating disorders among college students has risen to 10 to 20 percent of women and four to10 percent of men. Athletes were identified as a particularly underserved population on campus.

Commented Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA, “Eating disorders are potentially life-threatening and the steady increase of prevalence on our campuses is alarming. Colleges providing the resources and support necessary for students affected by eating disorders should be applauded. However, we have also learned that more can and should be done on many campuses to serve this population.We hope that many more colleges will step up to the plate and learn from this study sooner rather than later. Taking action about eating disorders on college campuses for early intervention and support could be key to a healthy future for many students.”

In the study, respondents (campus service provider representatives) at 165 participating colleges and universities provided information on eating disorder-related programs and services, including: campus screening and awareness events; educational programs and workshops; counseling services; academic classes or programs; residence life and peer advisor programs; athlete services; and informational resources, such as articles, websites and pamphlets.

According to the survey, access to education, screenings, and mental health resources aids in prevention efforts as well as encourages affected individuals to seek proper treatment. Overall, 73 percent of the colleges surveyed offer NEDAwareness Week activities and 94.1 percent of all respondents stated it is somewhat (36.1 percent) or very/extremely (58 percent) important. While 100 percent of the respondents that offer education and screenings for athletes stated it is very/extremely important, only 2.5 percent of schools surveyed offer year-round prevention and education for athletes and only 22 percent offer screenings and referrals. Results indicate that additional funding and resources are necessary in order to meet the needs of students nationwide.

healthillustrated The increased pressure and stress of school and leaving home may lead to mental health problems among college students and a greater need for campus services. This is also a period of development in which disordered eating is likely to arise, resurface or worsen for many young men and women. Full-blown eating disorders typically begin between 18 and 21 years of age (Hudson, 2007). Although some students will experiment with dieting and escape unscathed, 35 percent of “normal” dieters progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25 percent progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders (Shisslak & Crago, 1995). Given that eating disorders are the mental illness with the highest mortality rate (Arcelus, 2011), early detection, intervention and treatment is extremely important and gives an individual the best chance of recovery. Help-seeking decreases significantly when people are not aware of the options available to them (Ben-Porath, 2002; Friedman, 2009; Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006; Gould, 2007).

To read the full study and to find out how NEDA is addressing the needs identified by survey respondents, visit the Collegiate Survey Project on NEDA’s website: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/CollegiateSurveyProject

About National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

NEDAwareness Week, is an annual campaign to bring public attention to the critical needs of people with eating disorders and their families. This year’s efforts, themed Everybody Knows Somebody are already generating interest nationwide, with volunteers coordinating events throughout the country using their local media muscle to spread the word about eating disorders. During this week, hundreds of events will be held in communities coast to coast, offering an opportunity for people to gather information and learn how to support those with eating disorders. Opportunities are still available to distribute materials, purchase kits or to register to “do just one thing” to support this national movement.

Among the events planned: Seminars and workshops, film festivals, health fairs and screenings, NEDA Walks, candlelight vigils, fundraisers, artistic performances and Great Jeans Giveaways – to encourage people to get rid of jeans that don’t fit and to buy jeans that fit the real person.

For information on what’s happening in your community during NEDAwareness Week or how you can get involved: www.NEDAwareness.org

About the National Eating Disorders Association

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), headquartered in New York City, is the leading U.S. non-profit organization supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Each year, NEDA helps millions of people across the country find information and appropriate treatment resources through its toll-free, live helpline, its many outreach programs and website. NEDA advocates for advancements in the field and envisions a world without eating disorders. For more information, visit www.MyNEDA.org

- Submitted by Kelly Williams

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