The St. Bernards Counseling Center in conjunction with the National Panhellenic Council at Arkansas State University will sponsor a symposium on eating disorders on the ASU campus on Tuesday, Feb. 22.
The program will include a presentation by Dr. Cristina L. Shaw, coordinator of the eating disorders program at St. Bernards Medical Center, and a question-answer period. Shaw will discuss different kinds of eating disorders and will talk about warning signs as well as dangers and complications of eating disorders. She also will share information on how individuals can get help for themselves or for friends or loved ones.
The program is designed to raise awareness of the dangers surrounding eating disorders and the need for early intervention and treatment. Eating disorders, healthcare professionals stress, are complex conditions and are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices. They may begin with preoccupations with food and weight, but they are about much more than food. They can arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, biological and social factors.
In the United States as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting life and death battles with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Another 15 million are struggling with binge eating disorder.
Statistics from the National Eating Disorders Association show there has been a rise in incidence of anorexia in young women 15 to 19 years of age in each decade since 1930. A recent study showed that 80 percent of all 10-year-old youngsters in the U.S. are afraid of being fat.
Though eating disorders are serious and potentially life-threatening, there is help available and recovery is possible.
Planned for 6 p.m. in the auditorium in the ASU Student Union building, the event is being held during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb. 20-26) and is open to the interested public free of charge. The Panhellenic Council is requiring at least 50 percent of students active in Greek organizations on campus to attend the symposium.
Dr. Shaw coordinates the St. Bernards eating disorders program, seeing patients at the St. Bernards Counseling Center (615A East Matthews Ave.) on the Matthews Medical Mile.