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This version of NSU News has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of NSU News, visit news.nova.edu.

This version of SharkBytes has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of SharkBytes, visit sharkbytes.nova.edu.

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Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796

nova.edu/prmc

SharkBytes Archives

Contact

Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796

(954) 262-5353
(800) 541-6682 x25353
Fax: (954) 262-3954
communications@nova.edu

Eating Disorders Affect Millions of Americans

FORT LAUDERDALE-DAVIE, Fla.– February 21, 2014- 

When it comes to eating disorders, awareness is the key.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the local high school history teacher, a police officer or the newest Hollywood star – eating disorders affect people in all walks of life. According to the most recent information from the National Eating Disorders Association, approximately 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder sometime in their life.

There are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to eating disorders – which can make getting someone the help they need all the more difficult. As we approach National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (Feb. 23 – March 1), it’s important we take time to understand what might be affecting our friends or loved ones and what we can do to help.

The first misconception is that you can tell someone has an eating disorder simply by looking at them. In fact, most people with eating disorders – and, more broadly, disordered eating – don’t look different than anyone else. In other words, eating disorders cannot be diagnosed simply by someone’s outward appearance, including their weight. Remember, never judge a book by its cover.

Second, and surprising to many people, is that men suffer from eating disorders. Attention tends to focus on women, but men are afflicted, too. According to some reports, one out of every 10 individuals with an eating disorder is male, and boys and men were identified as the fastest growing group affected by an eating disorder.

Most troubling is the myth that someone with an eating disorder can simply “choose” to overcome it. Nothing could be further from the truth – these are serious illnesses with psychological, physical and medical aspects. Seeking treatment can be a very daunting task and it’s important to support the person in their recovery. Eating disorders tend to isolate the person from others, so when someone seeks treatment, support them as they make a positive change in their life.

So, what puts someone at risk for developing disordered eating behaviors or an eating disorder?

Research shows that the likelihood of developing an eating disorder is associated with a number of different risk factors, including high levels of stress, major life transitions, traumatic experiences or a vulnerability to anxiety, depression and perfectionism. In some cases, an individual’s profession can place increased emphasis on weight/body shape, which can also place them at increased risk for developing an eating disorder (athletes, dancers, gymnasts). The bottom line is that, as with any psychological or emotional problem, there are many complex paths to developing an eating disorder.

How can you tell if someone may be suffering from an eating disorder? Some of the signs include, but are not limited to: dramatic weight loss/extreme weight fluctuations; preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting; comments about “feeling fat”/body checking while eating and anxiety around meal times. While not everyone who exhibits these characteristics has an eating disorder, these are signs that someone may need help.

It’s important to recognize the signs of eating disorders as they have the highest mortality rate of all the mental illnesses. Early intervention is critical as it significantly enhances recovery.

Given the serious emotional and medical risks associated with eating disorders, a multidisciplinary treatment approach is recommended. This includes psychotherapy (group, individual, or both), ongoing monitoring of medical status (vitals, electrolyte levels, weight) by a physician, and dietary planning and follow-up by a registered dietitian or nutritionist.

And, finally, the myth that once you have an eating disorder you can’t recover is simply that – a myth. Recovery can be difficult, but it is possible and a reality that millions of people have experienced. Recovery and hope is very much a possibility for someone with an eating disorder.

If you or someone you know needs help, there are several places to get help. They include The National Eating Disorders Awareness’ confidential hotline (800-931-2237); The Renfrew Center (1-800-RENFREW); and The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness (866-662-1235). For information locally, call 954-NSU-CARE (678-2273.)

About the Authors:

  • Paula M. Brochu, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in NSU’s Center for Psychological Studies. She received her Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Western Ontario and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University. Prior to joining NSU, she taught at the University of Western Ontario and King’s University College at Western University. Her research examines prejudice, discrimination, and stigma, particularly in relation to obesity and weight bias. She has published extensively in this area and is considered an emerging leader in the field of weight bias and weight stigma.
  • Jennifer Davidtz, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at NSU’s Center for Psychological Studies. She completed doctoral training in clinical psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, followed by a pre-doctoral internship at The Cambridge Hospital/Harvard Medical School and post-doctoral fellowship at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She served on the full-time faculty at the American School of Professional Psychology Southern California, and maintained a private psychotherapy practice in Orange County, California. She has more than 10 years of specialized clinical training and experience in the treatment of severe and persistent mental illness, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and complex trauma.
  • Leah DiNardo is a doctoral clinical psychology trainee at NSU’s Center for Psychological Studies. She is working toward a Psy.D. in clinical psychology. Her interests include psychological assessment and neuropsychological testing, sexual and physical trauma, eating disorders and child psychology.

 

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About Nova Southeastern University: Situated on 314 beautiful acres in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic, fully accredited research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at all levels.  NSU is a not-for-profit independent institution with an enrollment of 27,000 students. NSU awards associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctoral and first-professional degrees in a wide range of fields.  NSU is classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and it is one of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification.  For more information, please visit www.nova.eduCelebrating 50 years of academic excellence!

About NSU’s Center for Psychological Studies: The Center for Psychological Studies (CPS) maintains a three-part mission: graduate education and training in psychology and counseling; service to the community; and clinical research. Through the relationship between its psychology services center and its academic programs, learning is rooted in real problems and research activities that attempt to find answers to extant concerns. CPS offers programs of excellence in educating future mental health practitioners and professionals in related fields, in advancing knowledge about psychological problems and their treatment, and in providing high-quality services that address society’s current mental health and community needs. For more information, please visit http://cps.nova.edu

 

Media Contact:

Joe Donzelli | Office of Public Affairs
954-262-2159 (office)
954-661-4571 (cell)
jdonzelli@nova.edu