According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder in the U.S. Of those 24 million, the association states that only 1 in 10 receive treatment.
In an attempt to address this issue, the University of Cincinnati’s campus recreation department has taken action in a number of ways.
“In addition to our nutrition coaching services, we also work with Counseling and Psychological Services, as well as University Health Services within the university, to treat patients suffering from problem eating,” said Brandi Hester, the assistant director of fitness and wellness for the University of Cincinnati.
The university’s nutrition staff also serve on a Body Image Awareness committee, with the goal of tackling the task of preventing social and psychological triggers on campus.
“Recently, our staff participated in a training for The Body Project, LLC, which is a research-based, highly effective eating disorder prevention program that we intend to offer to students on campus,” said Hester. “This semester we’ve made a conscious effort to be supportive of our diverse guest population and really focus on creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for our patrons.”
For example, signs are posted near the mirrors in every locker room and restroom that state, “Warning: Images in this mirror may be distorted by socially constructed ideas of beauty.” By scales there are signs that state, “This scale can only give you a numerical reflection of a relationship with gravity. That’s it. It cannot measure: beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength or love.”
According to Hester, the signs and efforts to tackle an important issue have been well received. “Since displaying these signs we’ve received a tremendous amount of support and positive feedback on campus, and even from other schools as they visit our facility,” she said. “Many have snapped photos of our signs and posted on platforms such as Instagram under the hashtag #UCTruth, voicing their gratitude for such an initiative on campus.”
Hopefully the initiative will aid the hundreds of thousands of students that suffer from eating disorders each and every day.