College Freshmen & Eating Disorders

By: Rosie Barresi Email
By: Rosie Barresi Email

College kids are in class, their pencils are sharpened and their books are wide open, but some of those students may end up gaining more than good grades.

According to the Eating Disorder Center of Denver, 90 percent of college students who develop an eating disorder do it during their freshmen year.

Experts say parent involvement is key, and the reason stems right from their family trees. Many already have a pre-disposition to an eating disorder so if one of their parents or siblings suffered from anorexia they are 12 times more likely to develop it, too.

"People die from eating disorders," said Tamara Pryor with the
Eating Disorder Center of Denver.

She says eating disorders should never be taken lightly, otherwise, "They will starve to death," said Pryor.

Twenty-two-year-old Sallie Whyte is a survivor. She's from Colorado Springs and is a college student in Denver. "After I would eat I would feel guilty," said Whyte.

She lost a significant amount of weight during her freshmen year of college. She no longer belonged to herself. Anorexia took over. "I began to struggle with depression, restricting food intake and over-exercising. I really began isolating myself from my friends because the eating disorder was everything," said Whyte.

Sallie is a statistic. She's one out of 20 freshmen who lose control and too much weight.

Ever hear of the freshman 15? It's part of the reason Sallie became obsessed. But Sallie was one of the lucky ones; She says her parents noticed a change in her weight and behavior and got her help before it was too late.

"The mortality rate for eating disorders is higher than any other psychiatric illness," said Pryor.

Even though Sallie is better the fight isn't over. "It's not like one goes to treatment and becomes fixed. It's an everyday struggle and something that I need to be conscious about at all times," said Whyte.

College is also stressful and it's one of the reasons many college kids get sick over their weight.

Recovery is not out of reach as long as you get treatment.

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