Program this Thursday at the College of New Jersey will help promote positive body standards and provide training for professionals.
Eating disorders are deadly; they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Today, many young women on U.S. college campuses are suffering from eating disorders, extreme dieting, body image issues and unattainable body ideals. Ninety one percent of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting and 22 percent dieted “often” or “always.” A significantly higher rate of eating disorders is also found among elite athletes.
“We are seeing a disturbing trend on college campuses with so many young women struggling with body image issues and eating disorders,” said Kim Dennis, MD, medical director at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center. “Young women are measuring themselves to body types portrayed in advertising. This ideal is possessed naturally by only five percent of American females.”
Dr. Dennis suggests there’s a greater need to focus on an individual’s talents and abilities, rather than just physical looks. Many women struggle with body image from time to time and that’s normal, but it should not consume the individual.
“Our eyes are really broken when it comes to interpretations regarding our bodies,” adds Dr. Dennis. “These interpretations are abnormal, extreme, and hateful.”
To encourage dialogue on this topic matter, Timberline Knolls and The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) are hosting two special events on campus on Thursday, October 27, in the Brower Student Center, Room 202. Starting with a “Lunch and Learn” for professionals, from noon- 2 p.m., Dr. Dennis will discuss “Co-Occurring Disorders: When Addictions and Eating Disorders Collide.” One Continuing Education (CE) credit will be available for counselors, social workers and psychologists.
That evening, the entire student body is invited to attend “Lovin’ the Body You’re In,” a panel discussion focusing on body ideals and America’s obsession with dieting in order to achieve an idealized, model-sized look. Dr. Dennis will serve on the panel as well as Jena Morrow, author of Hollow: An Unpolished Tale and behavioral health specialist at Timberline Knolls. Jena will also give a personal testimony on her experience with and recovery from an eating disorder.
After the panel discussion, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) will lead a candlelight vigil and moment of silence. The Delta Phi Epsilon sorority is helping to support the event.
“An increasing number of today’s college students engage in disordered eating that can threaten both immediate and long-term health and well-being,” said Marc Celentana, PhD, assistant vice president for student affairs and director of counseling and psychological services at TCNJ. “We have long recognized that one of the best ways to change students’ behavior is by making them aware of what constitutes an unhealthy obsession with food. To this end, we proudly support the message of ‘Lovin’ the Body You’re In.'”