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By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 25, 2010

Beginning college is a landmark event for many young people and a key step toward adulthood. However, for some, it also can be an episode that pushes some into a dangerous battle with eating disorders.

Stress can trigger an eating disorder, and for the college student who is away from home for the first time, the stress of moving into a totally different environment and meeting new people can make them more susceptible to developing an eating disorder, says Mary Boggiano, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Even new positive events are processed by the brain as stressful, she says. “A lot of students have heard about the ‘freshman 15,’” says Boggiano.

“To keep from gaining weight, some students engage in risky behaviors such as excessive dieting or purging food. In many cases, people learn about the risky behaviors from others students in their dorm or over the Internet, so that obsession about weight can become infectious.”

Boggiano says the common signs of an eating disorder include:

  • A preoccupation with calculating calories, fat grams and carbohydrate grams
  • A need to weigh oneself more than once a day
  • Allowing the numbers on the scale to determine mood
  • Exercising, skipping meals or purging after overeating
  • Exercising to burn calories rather than for health or for fun
  • An inability to stop eating once eating begins
  • Eating in secret
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed or disgusted after overeating
  • Basing self-worth on looks or weight
  • Worrying continuously about weight and body shape
  • Abusing diet pills or laxatives

Eating disorders can lead to long-term health problems, and even death.

For any young people who suspect they might be developing an eating disorder, Boggiano encourages them to seek help at free campus counseling centers, through a pastor or family doctor or through programs like Overeaters Anonymous.

“Whatever you do, don’t try to take care of it by yourself,” says Boggiano. “It will only get worse.”

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/08/25/stress-triggers-college-eating-disorders/17262.html

 



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