Week focuses on eating disorders

By Katie Conway

NIU is hosting a series of lectures on eating disorders to promote National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, aimed at stopping problems before they start.

Patti Dauser, the program coordinator and counselor for NIU’s Counseling and Student Development Center, said about 20 percent of all college women are affected by eating disorders. She said this year’s program is stressing prevention.

“It’s important to look critically at advertising, to challenge the idea that women need to look a certain weight,” she said. “We need to accept the way we are, to value ourselves on things other than weight.”

Dauser said eating disorders can lead to both emotional and physical problems, including poor self-esteem. These problems can affect relationships because all energy is being focused on food.

She also said an estimated 15 to 20 percent of severe cases can result in death caused by starvation, heart problems or kidney dysfunctions, and in the case of bulimia, a ruptured esophagus. She said in extreme emotional cases an individual might even commit suicide.

Ellen Parham of NIU’s human and family resources faculty will discuss “Empowering Women Through Alternatives in Weight Management” at 6 p.m. on Thursday in room 305 of the Holmes Student Center.

“We’re encouraging women and men to ask themselves what they’re looking for in weight management, what will make them happy and healthy,” Parham said.

Dauser will discuss “Women, Feelings and Food” at 7 p.m., following Parham’s program. She said women tend to use food “as a way of managing feelings.” The lecture will focus on how society influences women to be thin and how to avoid prejudice against obesity.

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is a national program NIU has been involved in for many years. Kathy Hotelling, director of the Counseling and Student Development Center, is a nationally known expert on eating disorders.

The center also serves as a training center for interns interested in eating disorders. This week’s program is being sponsored by the NIU Eating Disorders Task Force.

Anna Beth Payne, acting director of the center while Hotelling is on sabbatical, said, “Women and men concerned about themselves or their friends having an eating disorder are encouraged to call the office and set up an appointment.”

Dauser said the theme of the week is, “Don’t weigh your self-esteem. It’s what’s inside that counts.”