Ohio State offers assistance to students with eating disorders
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 00:02
National Eating Disorder Week is coming to a close, but the resources to help students at Ohio State aren’t going anywhere.
OSU’s Body Image Health Task Force, comprised of faculty, staff and students from various disciplines and departments, defines a person as having disordered eating when their “attitude about food, weight and body size leads to very rigid eating and exercise habits that jeopardize one’s health, happiness and safety.”
National Eating Disorder week began February 24 and runs through March 2.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 20 million American women and 10 million American men will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life.
Senior staff counselor from Counseling and Consultation Services, Tracie Keller, said the average age onset for an eating disorder is adolescence and young adulthood, a demographic that includes most OSU students.
“I think that college can be a vulnerable time for individuals who have struggled with or who are at risk for developing an eating disorder because of the many challenges involved. These can include moving away from home for the first time, changing support systems, beginning or ending romantic relationships and increased independence,” Keller said.
Students who have jeopardized health, happiness and safety due to an eating disorder can seek treatment from OSU’s Eating Disorder Treatment Team (EDT Team). The EDT Team is a collaboration among The Office of Student Life’s Counseling and Consultation Services, Student Health Services and the Student Wellness Center.
The EDT Team typically provides eating disorder treatment that includes a therapist, a nutritionist and a physician for an assessment. Following the assessment, the EDT Team discusses the severity of the student’s eating disorder and then identifies the most appropriate treatment recommendations for that individual.
Tracy Tylka, assistant professor of psychology who specializes in eating behavior, thinks that many students have disordered eating behaviors that cause distress but do not meet the criteria for actual eating disorders.
Tylka said disordered eating occurs along a continuum. Clinical eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia) are at one end while healthy eating in the presence of hunger is at the other end. Tylka said eating in the absence of hunger and chronic dieting would occur in the middle.
“I think the continuum approach is really important to understand,” Tylka said. “Many college students may never have full-blown eating disorders but may be significantly distressed about their bodies, food and weight.”
If a student is distressed about his or her body, food or weight along any point in the continuum, Keller recommends reaching out to a campus-provided service or support group as soon as possible.
“On campus there are a number of groups that can be of help to a student who is either interested in learning more about eating disorders or wants to speak with a person who is involved in education and prevention of these issues,” Keller said.
The Body Image Health Task Force hosts the annual Body Image Bazaar every February during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which features displays and exhibits highlighting physical health, acceptance, awareness and resources. This year’s Body Image Bazaar was on Monday at the RPAC.
Keller also recommended that students with disordered eating or body image issues reach out a student group called Body Sense.
Body Sense’s Facebook page states that the goal of the group is to “promote positive body image and expose the consequences of negative body image through activities and events.” Body Sense urges students to “celebrate every body.”