The most common eating disorders on college campuses are anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Both of these disorders occur more frequently in young women, bulimia being the more common. It is estimated that one in 20 college-age women have an eating disorder. Both disorders have serious medical consequences.
People who suffer from anorexia nervosa deliberately attempt to lose weight through self-starvation. Even though they may be extremely underweight, they see themselves as “fat” or are disgusted with their body image, deny any problem with their eating habits and will resist any efforts made to get them to eat or return to a more health weight.
People who suffer from bulimia engage in frequent, often daily, binge eating where they eat very large amounts of food, most likely in secret. They will then try to counteract the binge by purging, which may involve self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or prolonged fasting and exercise.
While many people with anorexia nervosa or bulimia deny having a problem and are reluctant to seek help, the disorder often comes to the attention of friends and family. A direct, caring and nonjudgmental expression of concern about their health by friends and family is often a vital first step in enabling people with eating disorders to seek appropriate treatment.
Cook Counseling Center and Schiffert Health Center offer individual psychotherapy, medical, and nutritional counseling for anyone suffering from these disorders. With proper help, people with eating disorders can learn to stabilize their eating patterns, maintain a health weight and resume a healthy lifestyle.
Students who wish more intensive follow-up can be referred to the HEART (Healthy Eating and Assessment Team). This is a multidisciplinary team comprised of a physician, nurse, psychologist, nutritionist, and exercise specialist. These individuals will evaluate the student and recommend the appropriate level of care (e.g., inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, or outpatient care). Virginia Tech does not have inpatient or intensive outpatient services, so a referral would be made in these cases.