Fit NIU exceeds goal for campus health

By Maria Tortorello

Studies show a fit and trim NIU has exceeded the goal of the National Health Services on overweight people.

The national office has set a goal of no more than 20 percent of the people on campus to be what the office considers overweight by the year 2000.

Results from the most recent survey conducted by NIU’s Health Enhancement Services show that less than 10 percent of the students on campus are overweight.

However, the survey also revealed the percent of women on campus who consider themselves overweight is close to 30 percent.

Such beliefs can lead to the practice anorexia nervosa, bulimia or both. Most victims of these disorders are women.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which the person concerned with her weight eats very little or nothing.

Bulimia is defined as the binging and purging of food.

“Nationally, 15 percent of college-age women have anorexia or bulimia,” said Kathy Hotelling, director of Counseling and Student Development Services.

Michael Haines, coordinator of Health Enhancement Services, said many of the women who appear to be maintaining a healthy lifestyle do so to improve their physical appearance.

“People appear to participate in healthy behavior for cosmetic reasons, and that can end up harming them,” he said.

Hotelling said the dominant reason for women to become bulimic or anorexic is because of the stress society puts on women to be thin.

“The main reason is because of the sociocultural ideas that pressure women into bulimia or anorexia. Women believe thin equals attractive and successful,” Hotelling said.

Very often, women are involved in anorexia as well as bulimia. In this case, the person usually switches between the two disorders.

“Several people starve themselves and then binge to maintain their weight,” Hotelling said.

There are several symptoms of anorexia and bulimia, such as a distorted body image, a preoccupation of food (for example, denial of hunger or binging), refusal to eat and excessive exercise.

The two disorders can cause several problems such as a potassium deficiency, which results in heart problems, osteoporosis (a bone deficiency) and, in some cases, death.

However, Hotelling said if someone has or knows of someone who has either of the disorders there is an advocacy group at NIU that can help.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) began at NIU in 1991.

The group meets from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Monday at University Resources for Women, 105 Normal Road.

The meetings include informational speakers and discussions for its members.

For more information about ANAD call 753-0320.