There are various eating disorders that plenty of people partake in currently within America. Most eating disorders focus on losing weight and maintaining a thin figure. According to the Office on Women’s Health, binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S. which affects about two percent of American adults (“Binge Eating Disorder Fact Sheet,” 2012). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines binge eating is when a person frequently consumes a large amount of food. Although this disorder is most commonly found amongst people who are overweight, it can be found in a broad range of people with any weight (“Binge Eating Disorder Fact Sheet,” 2012). Binge eating disorder is a growing problem in America affecting college students both physically and mentally.
Robin F. Apple, clinical associate professor at Stanford University, suggest binge eaters consume nearly three times the recommended amount of calories by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Binge eaters consume approximately 6,000 calories of food a day versus the recommended daily calorie intake of 2,100 calories (Apple, 7). This could be the reason for them feeling overwhelmingly full after a session of binge eating. The feeling of being tremendously full is one sign a person binge eats. There are several signs that Natalie Chambers, editor of Binge Eating: Psychological Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment, writes about just as Apple includes in her book. Signs and symptoms of binge eating range from person to person and these signs must be present for at least three months for someone to be diagnosed with binge eating disorder. Symptoms include eating for approximately 78 minutes without stopping and continuously (Chambers, 24). Binge eaters tend to eat alone from disgust and embarrassment of amount of food they tend to eat even when not hungry. They usually tend to feel guilty with themselves and begin to diet to make up for the act; causing a variation in weight (Buckroyd, 103). Binge eaters show a variation of these symptoms which can lead into different pathways into binge eating.
According to Kelly Stellato, a Registered Dietician/Nutritionist of Walden Behavioral Care, binge eating can lead into many different dark futures for an individual. According to Stellato there are four pathways into binge eating. The first is an individual starts dieting which can lead to anorexia, another major eating disorder (Stellato, 4). Then after suffering from anorexia they begin to consume great amounts of food due to lack of consumption during their anorexia phase. The second path which leads to binge eating disorder is when a person is already obese then decides to change their future by dieting (Stellato, 5). As soon as they realize that they cannot lose the weight or lack self-confidence the individual returns to consuming large amounts of food resulting in binge eating. The third pathway to binge eating is an unhealthy childhood. Many children these days consume more sugar, carbohydrates, fats, and lipids than ever before (Stellato, 6). Starting off with an unhealthy childhood can lead many people into the habit of overeating over the years. This habit may lead them to a life of dieting in their teenage years but their natural instinct of overeating and consuming many calories later comes back which results into binge eating when the individual is approximately 20 years old (Stellato, 6).
The final pathway to binge eating is the lack of impulse control around food and other areas of life. Many college students experience this because during the long hours of studying, they just keep on “munching” on snacks; munching being the act of eating something with continuous action of the jaw (Dictionary.com). With long hours in the library and a heavy workload the munching adds up to overeating and consuming more than the daily recommended dose of calories recommended by the FDA ( Stellato, 7). With so many different ways leading into binge eating, more and more people can come across the disorder, increasing the number of people who become binge eaters. As the number of binge eater’s increase, it becomes a problem because of the effects binge eating has on a person.
Many college students are under a lot of stress and scrutiny by their school work and their peers. Due to many stressed related issues, many turn to munching on snacks unknowingly while studying or working. Jennifer A. Smith, Clinical Social therapist states, “A 2010 survey of college counselors and other professionals by the Eating Disorders Recovery Center found that 48 % of students did not know they had an eating disorder” (Smith, 2010). When in the library many students just continuously eat without knowing the effects of their munching such as leading them into a life of binge eating and eventually weight gain. The remaining 52 percent of college students who knew they had an eating disorder, 82 percent of them were unwilling to seek treatment because they were either embarrassed to seek treatment or they lacked the treatment resources (Smith, 2010).
In college students, mainly females, do not seek treatment because they are too ashamed or disgusted with themselves because they binge eat (Smith, 2010). Some college students even believe that binge eating is a phase of their life that they will eventually grow out of. But according to Andrea Goldschmidt, Head of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, who performed a case study using 132 adolescents, 28 of the 132 adolescents continued to binge eat until late college. Then the study went further, out of 130 young adults in high school, 58 continued to binge eat into middle adulthood (Goldschmidt, 457). These students who believe that binge eating is just a phase in their life is wrong because nearly 42 percent of students that binge eat throughout their high school and college careers continue to binge eat into until middle adulthood (Goldschmidt, 458). Binge eating over many years can have disastrous effects on a person’s mental and physical being such as depression or diabetes.
The side effects of binge eating can affect a person’s physical and mental well-being. Some side effects of binge eating include depression, anxiety, addiction to eating, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure (Agras, 13). Obesity is a major side effect of binge eating because of the constant eating or munching on snacks leading to a great amount of weight gain. As stated before, binge eaters consume nearly three times the daily calorie intake recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Consuming nearly triple the amount calories recommended a day cannot only increase a person’s weight but can lead to a person having diabetes and high blood pressure. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes found among people who are overweight and lack physical exercise or motion (O’Connor, 1). Carrying excess weight is clearly linked to Type 2 diabetes. Being obese can lead to many different diseases such as high blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. With binge eating tying in all these different deadly diseases, it makes cardiovascular arrest more likely to happen amongst binge eaters (O’Connor 3). Along with physical side effects of binge eating, people may suffer mental problems as well.
The psychological effects on binge eating disorder can lead to the overall problem in America for college students. Binge eating disorder can give way to problems such as depression, anxiety, and even addiction, which can in turn affect a college student negatively. Chambers states “Research has consistently documented that college students reporting loss of control eating exhibits significantly greater anxiety, depression, body image dissatisfaction, and behavioral problems than those without loss of control eating” (Chambers, 171). College students who binge also tend to have low self-esteem because of their physical appearance (Chambers, 171). These mental effects are usually caused by negative emotions that can result in loss of control in their lives and not just eating. Chambers illustrates the effects of binge eating on college students and how negative emotions are usually caused by a stressful environment (Chambers, 175). Environments such as college can lead to the failing or dropping out of school (Chambers, 175). This can cause greater effects of depression and anxiety and the person will now be in a cycle of binge eating, unable to remove themselves (Chambers, 175). As more and more college students enter this cycle, it has become hard to ignore that binge eating is becoming a bigger problem in America.
Binge eating is a growing problem in America for college students because the stressful environment they face on a daily basis. The stress of maintaining a high GPA, taking vigorous classes, upholding a social life, and even those that work causes college students to cope with these stress factors in a negative way. Binge eating is the one of the most popular ways in which college students manage their stress (Buckroyd, 103). I believe colleges and universities should have programs in which those students with high levels of stress should interact with each other. Many colleges such as Fordham University have programs in which students interact with each other and even go on relaxing strolls through the Botanical Garden in order to relieve stress. The high levels of stress and physical effects on students who binge are becoming a national problem.
Many foundations and influential people such as first lady, Michelle Obama, are informing and educating people specifically students about eating disorders. Michelle Obama, for the Lets Move Foundation, says “In the end, as First Lady this isn’t just a policy issue just for me this is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition” (“America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids,” 2010). As Michelle Obama has recognized this issue, we as a nation should as well to try and help our students achieve a better lifestyle. Not just nutritionally but mentally, to remove them from the cycle of binge eating that Chambers mentions.
College students are affected both mentally and physically because of binge eating which is a growing problem in the United States. They face stressful factors and use binge eating as a mechanism of relief. In turn this causes harmful effects such as diabetes, depression, and obesity. These effects can lead them into a cycle impacting their lives such as removing themselves from a social life and giving up on their college career. These problems need to not only be resolved on the individual basis but throughout the United States. Colleges and professors need to understand that, college students are in a very stressful environment that they never faced before. These college students do not only have a role in college but also play a role in their families, which can add on to the stress that many college students face. Binge eating is problem that everyone should be aware of and try to solve.
- Apple, Robin F., and W. Stewart. Agras. Overcoming Eating Disorders: A Cognitive-behavioral Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa and Binge-eating Disorder: Therapist Guide. San Antonio: Psychological, 1997. Print
- ‘Binge Eating Disorder Fact Sheet.’ Womenshealth.gov. Web. 07 May 2014. .
- Buckroyd, Julia, and Sharon Rother. Psychological Responses to Eating Disorders and Obesity: Recent and Innovative Work. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, 2008. Print.
- Chambers, Natalie. Binge Eating: Psychological Factors, Symptoms and Treatment. New York: Nova Science, 2009. Print.
- Goldschmidt, Andrea . “The Course Of Binge Eating From Adolescense To Young Adulthood.” Health Psychology 33.5 (2014): 457-460. PsycINFO. Web. 7 May 2014
- ‘Let’s Move.’ America’s Move to Raise A Healthier Generation of Kids. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2014. .
- O’Connor, Anahad. ‘Diabetes and the Obesity Paradox.’ Well Diabetes and the Obesity Paradox Comments. 8 Aug. 2012. Web. 15 May 2014. .
- Stellato, Kelly. “Binge Eating Disorder: Nutrition Therapy.” Walden Behavioral Care. PDF File.