The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Questionnaire identifies eating disorders

An anonymous survey is lending a hand in helping students who may or may not suffer
from an eating disorder step up and seek the professional help they need.

As part of National Eating Disorders Awareness week, CSUN’s counseling office along with Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating (JADE) are providing a questionnaire they hope will inform students that help is just a phone call away.

JADE peer educator Sabrina Dertsakyan said they promote the questionnaire on their Web site as well as in classroom presentations.

‘We, as peer educators, go out and speak about this survey, we offer it on our Web site all year round,’ Dertsakyan said. ‘Our goal is to educate, inform and serve as a resource for students to feel comfortable to go and seek the help they need.’

JADE, a peer education program dedicated to the awareness and prevention of eating disorders, provides information and referrals to CSUN students. The program is sponsored by the national non-profit organization Screening for Mental Health, Inc., and has been advocated by CSUN since 2001.

‘We’re there to provide that service to help (students) not only understand each disorder and how it works but also how to approach someone they feel is suffering from an eating disorder,’ Dertsakyan said.

Katherine Cruise, the program’s director of communications and marketing, said the screening is a series of questions that, when linked together, help determine an individual’s risk for an eating disorder.

‘The screening is not a diagnostic, but it’s a tool to help assess whether an individual should follow-up for a more in-depth evaluation with a health professional,’ said Cruise.

Who added that the screening is based on the Eating Attitudes Test-26, which is one of the most commonly used inventories for identifying individuals at risk for an eating disorder.

‘The (item scale) consists of three sub-scales that evaluate preoccupation, oral control, and bulimic tendencies, by measuring restrictive eating, fear of weight changes, weight restricting activities, maladaptive thought processes and body dissatisfaction,’ said Cruise.

The large-scale concept was introduced in 1991 by Screenings for Mental Health, Inc., with the National Depression Screening Day, according to the web site

Screening for Mental Health Inc. provides in person and online programs that screen for depression, eating disorders, and suicide prevention among others according to the Web site. Its programs are implemented in universities, local clinicians, mental health facilities, social-service institutions, workplaces and the military.

Despite common belief, an eating disorder is not solely based on food, or on the desire to be thinner.

There are many contributing factors that lead to the beginnings of an eating disorder, including feeling ‘out of control’ in one’s life, feeling anxious or depressed, sexual abuse, genetic predisposition, family emotional problems, a high need for perfectionism, media and peer pressure.

The three most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating.

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss. People who suffer from the disease are 15 percent below their appropriate weight.

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a secretive cycle of binge eating followed by purging. While Binge eating, also known as compulsive overeating, is primarily characterized by periods of uncontrolled, impulsive or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling comfortably full.

Ninety five percent of those who have an eating disorder are between the ages 12 and 25. More than five million Americans are affected by an eating disorder every year, according to the National Institute on Mental Health.

Ellen Bauersfeld, registered dietician for the Klotz Student Health Center at CSUN, said the health center is able to accommodate all areas of support.

‘We work in getting students the care they need, from providing a full medical evaluation to providing a psychological evaluation,’ Bauersfeld said.

Bauersfeld added that many students who come to the center aren’t aware of a another classic eating disorder that hasn’t been diagnosed known as disordered eating.

‘It has to do with obsessive compulsive tendencies where the person restricts themselves from eating a certain food or product, like dairy products or foods that are a certain color,’ Bauersfeld said. ‘It’s not as severe or extreme like the other disorders.’

In a CSUN study that involved more than1,000 students, 60 percent said they knew someone with an eating disorder, and 28 percent said they had or have an eating disorder, according to the JADE Web site.

Child and adolescent development major, Shatori Stanford said she thinks that anything that is informational is helpful.

‘The key thing is to be healthy,’ said Stanford. ‘Just like they [students] want to be successful in their education they should want be successful in their health as well.’

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