Week to promote awareness of disorders

By Toni D. Kelly

Help is on the way for students suffering from dangerous eating disorders.

NIU’s Counseling and Student Development Center is sponsoring National Eating Disorders Awareness Week from Feb. 2 through Feb. 9.

Maria Rago, an intern at the Counseling and Student Development Center, described the two main eating disorders, anorexia and bulimia.

“Anorexia is a disorder that begins when someone is very afraid of gaining even the slightest amount of weight and starts to believe that they are unrealistically fat,” Rago said.

“These people tend to frantically try to lose at least about 15 to 20 percent of their body composition, and their time centers around trying not to eat.”

She said other symptoms of anorexia are denial of having the disease or harmful medical condition, a negative body image and a preoccupation with food.

But as serious as anorexia is, Rago said bulimia is much more prevalent at NIU, as well as in the DeKalb community. She described the disease as “binge” eating.

“Someone will consume large amounts of food then begin to abuse laxatives, diuretics and ultimately begin self-induced vomiting,” she said. “After which, that person will restrict eating altogether for about a week.”

Anyone suffering from either of the disorders is encouraged to attend an interdisciplinary panel discussion which is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 6, at 6 p.m. in the Illinois Room at the Holmes Student Center.

Panelists will include Rago, physician Linda Liston and nutritionist Diane Chiapetti, both from the University Health Service.

Anyone having a friend or relative with a related problem also is invited to a new eating disorder support group called Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD).

The group meets every Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the University Resources for Women.