Raising Awareness About Eating Disorders

Contact: Amy Gilliam

 

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“The message we want the public to understand is, don’t fight your genes. Only two percent of women look like supermodels. Our culture needs to recognize that people come in all shapes and sizes and that every body is beautiful. University Health Service’s goal is for individuals to focus on health and fitness rather than on trying to change their body shape to fit an ideal.”

-- Jill Kindy,
registered dietitian,
University Health Service

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 20, 2004) -- Five to 10 million women and girls and one million men and boys across the United States suffer from an eating disorder. About one in every five people who suffer from a disorder will die due to complications.

During the week of Feb. 23-27, UK CARES (Counseling, Awareness, Resources, and Educational Services), University Health Service, and University Counseling and Testing Center will host the “Great Jeans Giveaway” in conjunction with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. University Health Service will put bins in all residence halls at UK to collect students’ jeans that no longer fit. The jeans will then be donated to local charities.

UK CARES representatives will be available at the Johnson Student Recreation Center from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 23-26 to answer questions and hand out pamphlets about eating disorders. Clothing bins also will be available during that time.

“The message we want the public to understand is, don’t fight your genes,” said Jill Kindy, registered dietitian at University Health Service. “Only two percent of women look like supermodels. Our culture needs to recognize that people come in all shapes and sizes and that every body is beautiful. University Health Service’s goal is for individuals to focus on health and fitness rather than on trying to change their body shape to fit an ideal.”

The objective of Eating Disorders Awareness Week is to help raise awareness that the emotional and physical devastation of eating disorders and body image issues can be prevented. It provides the opportunity to spread the message that self-esteem cannot be weighed in pounds on a scale.

Signs of eating disorders include: a marked increase or decrease in weight not related to a medical condition, preoccupation with food and weight, conversations about "feeling fat" when weight is normal or below normal, low self-esteem, knowledge about the number of calories and fat content in foods, and obsessive exercising.

“Eighty percent of all American women are dissatisfied with their body image,” Kindy said. "It is fairly likely that you or someone you know could be dealing with body dissatisfaction, eating concerns, or a clinical eating disorder, such as anorexia, bulimia, or compulsive overeating. It’s important to make sure people look at their body weight as a fitness issue.”

When someone suspects a friend of having an eating disorder, he or she should talk to the friend privately and express concerns about the friend's emotional and physical health.

"When approaching a family member, friend, or co-worker, try not to focus on eating and weight, but on your concern for that person’s health and safety," Kindy said. "It’s important to remember that an eating disorder is not only a problem, but also can be an attempt to solve a problem."


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