Eating Disorder Awareness Week of Events
- It’s Time to Talk About Trashing the Bash, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Student Center Tally
- It’s Time to Talk About Self-Compassion, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Student Center Pineshelf Room
- It’s Time to Talk About Body Image and Social Media, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Student Center Cardinal Hall A
- It’s Time to Talk About Taking a Compliment, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Student Center Tally
- It’s Time to Talk About Fad Diets, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Student Center Pineshelf Room
- It’s Time to Talk About Body Love, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Student Center Pineshelf Room
Twenty million women and 10 million men in the United States will be affected by an eating disorder at some time in their life, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which started Feb. 25 and runs until March 3, helps bring eating disorders to light, said Ellen Lucas, associate director of outreach consulting psychology.
“Eating disorders are a major public health concern that needs to be addressed and taken seriously," Lucas said in an email. "More people die from an eating disorder than any other psychological illness. Early detection and intervention can save lives, provide treatment and education and hopefully help to prevent eating disorders from developing.”
Lucas will be holding a discussion about fad diets from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Student Center Pineshelf room.
“Ninety-one percent of college women report dieting, and so dieting definitely affects college students,” Lucas said. “Especially at this time of year when Spring Break is fast approaching and bathing suit season is upon us, students begin to look for quick ways to lose weight. The diet industry is a $50 billion industry.”
Lucas points out that because college is a time of transition, students often cope using different mechanisms — food being one of them.
“It goes without saying that college can be a time of transition, stress and change and sometimes people use eating as a way of coping, and this can develop into an eating disorder or disordered eating,” Lucas said. “There can be pressure to look a certain way, fit into the stereotype of the cultural ideal, which can also lead to disordered eating.”
Emily Aker, a junior real estate property management major, has collaborated with the National Eating Disorder Association for the past two years; however, the relationship she has with eating disorders goes beyond an annual walk.
When Aker was in second grade, she developed an eating disorder. She has struggled since, but has been in recovery for a year-and-a-half now.
“I myself, I struggled with an eating disorder from second grade until I’ve been in recovery for a year-and-a-half now,” Aker said. “I went to treatment five different times, two of the times were residential, and my parents basically bought a house each time I went. That’s how expensive it is.”
While coordinating the first annual National Eating Disorder walk in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Aker was still struggling with her eating disorder.
“I think doing the walk in general, just seeing how many people were supporting me and supporting eating disorders, really helped bring me out of that,” Aker said. “It gave me a purpose for my struggle.”
She wasn’t the only one struggling in her community at the time.
“Last year when I was asking for sponsorships, I had contacted the Fort Wayne Zoo to see if they would give us a couple of tickets for a prize or something, and the lady that gave me the tickets said that she had been struggling with an eating disorder for seven years and hadn’t been able to find help,” Aker said.
Since the walk, Aker has seen an improvement in the community’s awareness of eating disorders. She receives emails frequently about volunteering at the walk, where people can help in the community and where treatment is available.
“People think it’s a hush hush topic and it's secretive, and it doesn’t need to be. It needs to be brought into the spotlight,” Aker said.
This year, the walk will be held on April 22 at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne.