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Need for Eating Disorders Treatment is Not Readily Recognized Among College Students

Eating Disorders and CollegeStudies have shown that while college students are one of the groups that are most prone to developing an eating disorder, they’re surprisingly also some of the least educated when it comes to identifying the signs of eating disorders.

The study, done by Ashlee Hoffman, a University of Cincinnati doctoral student, observed disordered eating in college students and found that though the students generally know what anorexia and bulimia are, very few knew how to identify the risk factors of either disorder. The surveyed students, which included males and females, could correctly identify depression and anxiety as signs of anorexia or bulimia, but only a moderate percentage could identify common risk factors such as pressure from sports, a critical family member or recent life changes. One startling finding that Hoffman reported was that those who had stated that they’d had a longtime involvement with an eating disorder were more unlikely to be able to identify risk factors and indicators of disordered eating.

The survey also found that females were more likely to know risk factors than their male counterparts. Hoffman plans on continuing her studies on disordered eating and educate college-aged students so they’re more aware of eating disorders and their warning signs. She stresses the importance of open communication among friends when it comes to eating disorders, making it easier to talk about something that many find intimidating or even frightening. “It’s an issue that’s been long perceived as a taboo subject, partly because of the efforts that people make in hiding disordered eating,” Hoffman says. “If it’s not appropriately addressed in conversation, it can make the problem even worse.”

Learning the warning signs of an eating disorder like anorexia and bulimia is important, not just for your yourself, but also for those who are close to you. If you think someone’s handling an eating disorder – no matter his or her age – seek a treatment program is the first step to recovery.

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