On Feb. 26, Southern Adventist University will be holding its first ever Eating Disorder Awareness Day, according to university counselor Tiffany Bartell.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, eating disorders are illnesses in which the people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions.
“Eating disorders often begin between the ages of 18 to 21 years of age, making our student population a demographic at risk for suffering from these illnesses,” Bartell said. “Anorexia Nervosa, an eating disorder, has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. And so our motivation to increase awareness, early detection and intervention is quite high.”
According to EatingDisorderHope.com, approximately twenty percent of female university students and ten percent of male university students suffer from clinical eating disorders. In addition, American College Health Association reports that 44 percent of women and twenty-seven percent of men enrolled in college are dieting to lose weight.
A booth for the Eating Disorder Awareness Day will be at the Student Center from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. At 12:30 p.m., in the Taylor Circle parking lot in front of Thatcher Hall will be the main event: Southern Smash, a non-profit organization sponsored by the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness.
“One of the exciting parts of the event includes students being able to actually ‘smash’ scales to show that they do not have to let the numbers on a scale define their value,” Bartell said.
Bartell hopes the event will encourage students to take on a healthier and more positive view of their bodies and help them find necessary resources.
“Referring to foods as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ or even talking about ‘cheat days’ can be triggering to a person who has an eating disorder,” Bartell said. “So even those who feel that they have healthy relationships with themselves and food can develop the habit of being healthy in how they relate to others and especially sensitive to their peers who might be struggling.”