Over 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. To raise awareness to this topic, the National Eating Disorder Association launched the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, taking place this year from Feb. 21-27.
This year’s national campaign focuses on early detection and intervention. Symptoms to look for in early detection include: frequent comments about feeling “fat” or overweight; behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting and control of food are becoming primary concerns; skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals; hiding body with baggy clothes; evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time; maintaining excessive, rigid exercise regimen—despite weather, fatigue, illness or injury—because of the need to “burn off” calories; and drinking excessive amounts of water or using excessive amounts of mouthwash, mints and gum.
Data collected by the National Institute of Mental Health also shows about one in every four college students suffers from an eating disorder, so UWG Health Education partnered with the Counseling Center to plan a week of events designed to promote the power of “self love” across the UWG campus.
Events during the week focus primarily on generating positivity among the student body, through inspirational messages written on mirrors around campus and free lollipops with uplifting messages. There will also be a “My Best Feature” campaign on social media promoting students’ best inner features instead of physical features.
The final event, a panel discussion with representatives from Health Services and the Counseling Center, will take a more somber tone.
“The panel is more about the reality of what eating disorders are, while the rest of our week is focusing more on the power of self love,” said Nicole Bersey, graduate student with UWG’s Health Education. “During the panel we will focus on what happens when you have an eating disorder, where you can go to get help and things of that nature, so it does go a little deeper than that surface level of the other events. We don’t want anything to be too triggering for students who may be passing by.”
Throughout the week students are encouraged to participate in free online screenings designed to help examine any thoughts or behaviors that may be associated with eating disorders and to use #UWGHEALTHY on social media accounts.