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Home > Research Articles > Eating disorders not just about being skinny

The Signpost

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Eating disorders not just about being skinny

By Lindsay Gleason | correspondent

Most people at some time in their life have some issues with eating. It is when these issues interfere with daily life that they become disorders. Eating disorders include more people than some would think. Wisdom on Wednesday is a weekly event where experts around the community as well as experts from Weber State University talk to students about different issues, such as eating disorders. "We try to talk on issues that would be of interest to students," Wisdom on Wednesday Chair, Gloria Perez-Jensen said. "We have an advisory council that helps us find topics that students want to hear about as well as asking students themselves what they would like to hear about."

Licensed Clinical Social Worker Carolie Meccico and Licensed Professional Counselor Sharon St. John work at the eating disorder treatment center, Centerpoint.

"We provide each patient with two therapists instead of just one," St. John said. "Because of the specialties each therapist has, we are able to have two therapists throughout their entire treatment helping them in different ways."

Eating disorders are not only about starvation or trying to look thin. Many disorders, such as over-eating, are not usually thought of as a disorder. Purging anorexia, non-purging, and binge eating are all subcategories of eating disorders.

"When most people think of eating disorders, they think of anorexia and bulimia," Meccico said. "People only think about these kinds of eating disorders because that is what they most commonly hear about."

Studies suggest about 60 percent of adult Americans are overweight and about one third are obese. Many of those people have binge eating disorder.

Generally, when people think of someone who is anorexic, they think of someone extremely thin. Most people could point someone out that is anorexic just by looking at them. People with bulimia are different.

"You can't really identify bulimics, they look like pretty average people," St. John said. "However, many times their smile will give a person away. After years of suffering from bulimia you can see effects on a person's teeth from all the purging."

Many factors can cause eating disorders. It is difficult to come up with one specific cause of eating disorders.

"Everyone has a place where they don't feel sure of themselves," Meccico said. "People's opinions, the media, societal norm, and parental

examples can all be contributors of why we might not feel sure of ourselves in one area or another."

Although there are age groups where eating disorders are seen more frequently.

"We tend to see bulimia in people in their teens and 20s," St. John said. "That is when the disorder develops anyway, but some people don't ever get over the disorder."

Certain personality traits are consistently seen in those with eating disorders. People who tend to be perfectionists, control freaks, obsessive and compulsive and shy are all common characteristics of those with eating disorders.