Faculty Spotlight: Disordered Eating & Body Image

Disordered eating and eating disorders are common issues on college campuses. Disordered eating can include excessive dieting, restricted eating, pre-occupation with food or weight, binge-eating, and/or purging behaviors. The majority of eating disorders onset before the age of 20—early identification of disordered eating behaviors are important before the illness spirals out of control. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates among mental illnesses, and can affect students academically, emotionally, and medically. There are common signs and symptoms that faculty and staff may notice:

  • Significant increases or decreases in weight
  • Statements suggesting distorted body image
  • Preoccupation with food, weight loss, or exercising
  • Regimented/unusual eating habits or secretive eating
  • Food restriction, bingeing, or purging behaviors
  • Excessive exercise
  • Social withdrawal
  • Low self-esteem
  • Perfectionism
  • Fatigue
  • Moodiness/irritability

Additionally, there are some prevalent myths about disordered eating behaviors that faculty and staff should consider. First, even students of normal weight may have disordered eating problems or poor body image. Next, eating disorders can affect both male and female students. Many times, eating disorders are thought to affect women only; however rates of eating disorders among men have been rising. Lastly, eating disorders are very complicated illnesses and treatment involves much more than just gaining weight. Proper treatment requires several medical and mental health professionals.

If you suspect that a student is struggling with disordered eating, please contact the Student Support Team. Resources on eating disorders are available at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org


Art by Meg Quinn. Used with permission






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