Skinny hurts

Living with an eating disorder

“I skipped lunch today.”

“No thanks, I already ate.”

“Do you know how many calories are in that?”

“I’m so fat.”

These phrases are common signs of eating disorders, and many people have said at least one. Have you?

The high school health curriculum lacks information and means of getting help for students suffering an eating disorder.

“The ninth grade health curriculum focuses on reproductive health and touches very lightly on health issues such as eating disorders,” Stephen Powell, health and fitness teacher, said.

Anorexia is the third most common long term illness in teens, according to the national Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD).

“My master’s thesis was on eating disorders,” counselor Leslie Cummings said. “I definitely think that society affects people’s body image. Look at what the media puts out there. How can it not?”

The ANAD reports 20 million women and 10 million men in the U.S. have suffered from a clinically significant eating disorder in their lifetime, but it affects people worldwide.

“I think we should focus on healthy lifestyle choices,” Cummings said. “We should be looking at healthy nutrition, exercise, mind and body and stress relieving activities. Trying to be a healthy person, not going for a certain image.”

Ninety-five percent of people with an eating disorder are between the ages of 12 and 26, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

“They are horrible,”sophomore Shyanne Robinson said. “Since eating is necessary for life, it’s kind of crazy. It’s a wonder what trauma they have been through to make them not want to eat.”

The main contributor to eating disorders is body dissatisfaction.

“I believe that education, starting as early as fourth or fifth grade, is key to prevention,” thinks  Diane Weid, Nurse Practitioner at IHA Chelsea Family and Internal Medicine. “Students need to know at an early age about good nutrition, the importance of self esteem and individuality.”

The NEDA finds that 40-60 percent of girls ages six to twelve are concerned about becoming too fat, and it only gets worse from there.

They need to know that whatever type of feelings they are experiencing are valid and, more than likely, not unique to only them,” Weid said. “I often tell my patients that normal is just a setting on your clothes dryer. There is a whole range of normal, and we are all in it together.”