12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday,_February 9, 2001
ncreases disorder awareness
A lack of staff members qualified to treat eating disorders
at the University has inspired administrators to take steps
toward increasing the number of resources available to stu-
Robert Winfield, interim director of University Health Ser-
vices, said an experienced staff is necessary to serve the wide
range of eating disorders present on campus.
"Eating difficulties range from obesity or frequent dieting
to the more difficult issues of anorexia nervosa and bulimia
nervosa," Winfield said. Winfield said there is a strong
demand on campus for eating disorder services.
University President Lee Bollinger's Advisory Commission
on Women's Issues and the Center for the Education of
Women made a request to Provost Nancy Cantor to examine
Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper
formed a multi-disciplinary task team which reviewed the lit-
erature and current programs available on campus. The team
* By Jacquelyn Nixon, Daily Staff Reporter 4
was comprised of Counseling and Psychological Services
staff and student representatives. The team presented their
report to PACWI and CEW in mid-January. The report con-
cluded the University needed additional staff with experience
in the various spectrum of eating disorders.
"In the long run UHS, CAPS and the Division of Student
Affairs need to formulate a broader scope of eating disorders,"
Task team co-chair and UHS health educator Carol Tucker
said the current services on campus provide temporary care.
"Eating issues are something which needs treatment and
intervention can be fairly intensive," Tucker said.
Winfield said within the next two to five years the actions in
the report should be completed.
"The first step is a job posting for a half-time health educa-
tor this semester who will work on prevention issues and get-
ting people into treatment," Winfield said. "The second
half-time person will work on getting people into treatment."
UHS also plans to launch a Website detailing the resources
available by the fall semester.
"We intend to improve the services available to students,"
Winfield said. "We think we need to do more and we are
determined to do more."
Currently students who come into UHS with an eating dis-
order are assigned to a member of the clinical staff who is
familiar with such disorders. Then the individual would be
referred to counseling services and a nutritionist. If long-tern
psychiatric care was necessary, the student would be referred
to a community expert for treatment over a period of years,
A service often used by UHS, CAPS offers short-term ther-
apy, said clinical psychologist Stacey Pearson.
"We have a comprehensive-eating patterns assessment," she
said. "We look at family history, anything that might be con-
nected with the disorder and we work with a physician and
* By Jacquelyn Nixon, Daily Staff Reporter *
LSA senior Monika Offerman lost 45
pounds in a period of six months
because of an eating disorder. Offer-
man, who said living in a sorority con-
stantly forced her to compare herself to
other women and accelerated her condi-
tion, is an example of one of the leading
possible causes of eating disorders:
"At the dinner table, you see how
little someone eats," she said. "At
Michigan there are so many skinny
girls. In order to fit in, many girls
mimic the other girls to be a part of a
group so they can be good friends
Robert Win field,
interim director of "Every student on
University Health nected to someon
Services, also iden- with eating."
such as. residence Clini
halls and other
group living conditions as places
where students are vulnerable to
developing eating disorders.
Registered dietician Caroline Mandel
said several male and female athletes
suffer from disordered eating.
"Eating disorders don't discriminate,"
Mandel said. "It's not known whether
athletic participation causes eating dis-
orders or whether an eating disordered
lifestyle promotes athletic participa-
Mandel, the University's director of
sports nutrition, said self-esteem and
the move to a college environment
can be a cause for changes in eating
LSA sophomore Courtney Fessenden
said there is pressure to stay fit, yet for
'busy college students it is difficult to
always eat balanced meals.
Mandel said eating disorders are
about control and coping.
"Eating disorders are not about food.
Sometimes an injury, parents divorcing
or a significant loss can be a trigger,"
A drastic loss in weight is evident in
athletes with eating disorders, Mandel
said. With continued training there is
usually a decrease in athletic perfor-
mance and sometimes a decrease in
"You don't want a gymnast tumbling
if she's hypoglycemic," Mandel said.
Some athletes fear getting help
because of the possibility of not being
able to compete.
"Sometimes they can continue par-
ticipation," Mandel said. "Sometimes
if there are health reasons why it is
unsafe for them to participate, they
our campus is con-
e who has an issue
cal Psychologist, CAPS
may have to cut
back on exercise in
order to regain
weight and improve
Once an athlete is
identified to have an
eating disorder, a team of support - the
patient, a therapist, a dietitian, a physi-
cian and often a coach or trainer - is
formed in a manner unique to each ath-
lete, Mandel said.
Counseling and Psychological Ser-
vices clinical psychologist Stacey Pear-
son said students are the key to
intervening with friends who suffer
from eating disorders.
"Every student on our campus is
connected to someone who has an
issue with eating, whether they know
it or not, and we want to reach those
who can serve as advocates," Pearson
Offerman said intervention came in
the form of her sorority sisters, who
witnessed the effects of the disorder.
"People here who don't know you
- it's hard for them to see the
changes. Girls that are with you in a
sorority can assess these things,"
Offerman said. "It's also a good thing
in the long run - with all that sup-
port it was addressed."
* By Elizabeth Kassab, Daily Staff Reporter *
For decades experts have debated whether individuals
can ever completely conquer their eating disorders.
Randall Flanery, professor of community and family
medicine at St. Louis University, said there are two ways to
approach the treatment of eating disorders.
One view maintains that they are addictions, similar to
alcoholism. This school of thought "sees it as a lifelong
problem that you're going to have to confront for your
entire life," Flanery said.
This outlook can be very discouraging for people, who
think "I'm going to be like this for the rest of my life," Flanery
said. They get "trapped in this and never seem to get out'
The second view is that eating disorders are a learned
behavior that can be unlearned.
"From that perspective it is possible for people to fully
recover," said Flanery.
"Yes, they can be cured," agreed David S. Rosen, a clini-
cal associate professor and chief of the University of Michi-
gan's section of teenage and young adult health.
. "I have a strong belief that eating disorders need multi-
disciplinary treatment," Rosen said.
Rosen focuses on mental health, nutrition and physical
health in treating eating disorders.
They "are not just the emotional problems of hysteri-
cal girls," Rosen said. They are legitimate medical
problems that are more complex than eating too much
or too little.
"Food is not the issue," said Kristin Fusco, founder and
director of Healing Through Whole Foods, a Birmingham-
based business focused on healthy eating. "There is a deep
emotional hunger that rigid eaters, compulsive overeaters,
dieters, anorexics and bulimics are trying to satisfy. The
emptiness they feel inside is temporarily satiated with or
[by] withholding food. In both instances, there is the funda-
mental belief that 'I am not enough.' ... Food becomes the
substitute for feeling better, for substituting the love we so
Recovery is a long and challenging process, but it is pos-
sible, Rosen said.
Patients have to fit all of the American Psychiatric
Association's criteria to "Food is not theiue e
be diagnosed with an eat- -sFoo deipn oth isnu hner."
ing disorder. The majori- is a deep emotional hunger.'
tofpeople who have an -rsi uc
ty ofeg polemwhibaiFounder and director of
Healing Through whole Foods -
some characteristics of
eating disorders but do not have clinical anorexia or
bulimia, Rosen said.
"Bona fide eating disorders are fairly rare;' said Universi-
ty of South Florida psychology Prof. J. Kevin Thompson.
He estimated they apply to between 3 percent and 5 percent
of the population.
Rosen agreed that eating disorders are relatively scarce
but noted the rate rises when looking exclusively at women,
especially teenagers or young women. -
"It's higher still in successful college-age women" Rosen
said. He speculates the rate may stand as high as 14 percent
of that particular group.
Joanne Chopak, a health educator at Georgia Southern
University, said successful college women are likely to
strive for perfection.
She said that while this is an asset in some areas, it is
dangerous when coupled with an overwhelming desire to
attain the "perfect" body.
"No matter what weight they get down to, they're
never satisfied," Chopak said. Their perception of their
own body may be distorted so that they see themselves as
fat even when they appear painfully thin to others, she
The number of patients who exhibit some character-
istics of eating disorders but "do not reach the thresh-
old" of a true eating disorder is startlingly high, Rosen
"For every patient who has anorexia, there are 10 who
almost do. For every patient who has bulimia, there are 20
who almost do,"he speculated.
"They may not fulfill the diagnostic criteria, but they may
be weight-preoccupied," Chopak said.
People with eating problems who fall short of clini-
cally defined disorders are in a perilous position, Rosen
said. "They are able to fly under the radar and go unno-
PhotoIllustration by DAVID KATZ/Daily
Millions of people around the world find the reflection that confronts them in the mirror is
unsatisfactory while others around them see nothing wrong with their appearance.
* By Elizabeth Kassab, Daily Staff Reporter *
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dominate society fuel the futile
quest for the 'perfect' body and,
in some cases, cultivate eating
"Blame it on Barbie, blame it on the media -
those are the easy targets," University of South
Florida psychology Prof. J. Kevin Thompson
But some of the most powerful influences on
eating disorders may not be as removed or imper-
sonal, Thompson said.
"What we're looking at now is the influence of
parents versus peers versus the media. All these
influences are important. We haven't gotten to the
point of saying one is more important than the oth-
Comments and pressure from family and peers
to look a certain way influence how people act, and
the media reinforces these attitudes. For several
generations now there has been no escape from the
images of 'perfect' bodies that pervade daily life,
"Parents who grew up in this culture of thinness
then I'm popular, attractive, successful, self-disci-
plined," Flanery said. The flip side is pessimistic
-"No one will like me if I'm not thin."
Thompson said magazines insist on filling their
pages with thin models because they contend no
one will buy them if they don't. "Who knows if
that's true or not because no one's ever tested it,"
Thompson said he feels there is a "movement
toward getting away from the sickly anorexic look
to the more healthy look." Olympic athlete Marion
Jones posed as a cover girl, but Thompson said her
muscular physique is still unnatural.
Eating disorders are largely a "product of indus-
trialized societies," Flanery said.
The reason is fairly simple, according to
Chopak. "If you live in a country where food is
scarce then they're not anorexic. They're just starv-
ing,' she said.
But that's not to say developing countries don't
have problems with eating disorders.
"Increasingly they do, and it's because we're
exporting our neuroticism to other countries,"
Thompson said. "The general consensus is that
the western influence, when it pervades other cul-
tures, creates this desire for being thinner," he
He offered the Fiji islands as one example. Tra-
s . '.