College kids worry about passing tests, post-graduation careers and they probably spend a good deal of time thinking about fellow students of the opposite sex. Recent reports say that a troubling number of college students are also worrying about how much they weigh and how they look, and those worries translate into disordered eating.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health as many as one quarter of all university students are dealing with an eating disorder. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) conducted a 2013 study which revealed that the problem of disordered eating on university campuses is only getting worse.
Significant numbers of young women in the U.S. are affected by problematic drinking behaviors and/or the symptoms of an eating disorder. In some cases, affected women may initially fall into their eating and alcohol-related behaviors as part of a conscious or unconscious attempt to cope with various forms of stress. In a study published in May 2014 in Addictive Behaviors, researchers from Auburn University explored the potential connection between alcohol problems and eating disorders in young women and the presence of similar issues in their parents. These researchers also explored the more general influence of a dysfunctional family environment on young women’s drinking and eating behaviors.
Young adults who entered college this past fall were confronted with a host of new stresses the minute they unpacked their suitcases on campus. Without an ever-present family support system, these stresses may feel overwhelming to young adults stepping outside into the broader world for the first time. In fact, entering college can be a trigger for the onset of an eating disorder for some.