National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week, which is Feb. 21 to Feb. 27, works to improve the public’s understanding of the causes, dangers and treatments associated with eating disorders.
Drake is participating in NEDA Week for the first time starting last Monday. Tables will be set up in Hubbell and Olmsted until Friday with information on eating disorders.
“Disordered eating is a huge issue on college campuses and is something that certainly needs more attention,” said Melissa Nord, a counselor at Drake who helped organize the NEDA events on campus.
“According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the mean age of onset of anorexia is 19, of bulimia is 20 and of binge eating disorder is 25, so college is often the prime time to develop an eating disorder,” Nord said.
Because college is the mean age to develop an eating disorder, a part of the week is to educate students.
“There will be facts about eating disorders, resources on eating disorder specialists in the area, suggestions on how one can help someone who they suspect may have an eating disorder, et cetera,” Nord said. “Various locations on campus will have facts and information about eating disorders.”
Nord believes that there are many factors that put college students more at risk for eating disorders.
“For many, eating in a dining hall or in one’s own apartment puts them, usually for the first time, solely in charge of what they eat when,” Nord said. “For some this can be difficult, and can result in either overeating because there is access to so many choices at each meal, or under-eating because of fear of the quantity of food or of not knowing how it is prepared.”
NEDA Week activities are meant to educate students on how to take better care of their bodies and eating habits.
A couple of different offices have collaborated to put on these NEDA events, including Nord, the Wellness Board (through the Residence Hall Association) and Drake Health Center.
“Most of us have been affected in some way by eating disorders whether or not it’s us or if it’s someone that we know,” said Lauren Ewing, the wellness chair on the Crawford Hall Executive Council. “There are ten million females and one million males in the U.S. that struggle with eating disorders so it’s really prevalent.”
Although the issue is prevalent, Ewing doesn’t think the issue is talked about enough.
“A lot of times there’s not a lot of emphasis on the issue,” Ewing said.
The Executive Council is in charge of planning hall events and letting residents know of other campus happenings.
On Wednesday, there will be a yoga session called “Connecting Body and Mind” in Olmsted 132 at 4 p.m. On Thursday, Tom and Doris Smeltzer will be speaking about their daughter’s experience with bulimia in Sheslow Auditorium at 7 p.m. A session called “Mindful Eating 101” will be held on Friday in the Olmsted Mezzanine at 11 a.m.
On Saturday, the Eating Disorder Coalition of Iowa is holding “Eating Disorder Awareness Day” at the Holiday Inn in Merle Hay. All of these events are free and open to the public.
Nord is hoping to start and advise a student-led Body Image and Eating Disorders Awareness (BIEDA) group on campus. For more information, contact Melissa Nord at email@example.com.