September 15, 2014
Eating Disorders and Over-Exercise in Collegiate Recreation (Part I):
A Reflection on the Last 15 Years
Adrian A. Shepard, MS, RCRSP
Recreation Management Program Faculty, Madison College
The following information has been inspired by and extracted from the 2014 NIRSA Annual Conference & Exposition presentation, Eating Disorders and Over-Exercise: Reflection on 15 Years of Experience, conceived by the late Karen Miller from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and presented by Cathy Jewell from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Katie Kage from the University of Northern Colorado, Jill Urkoski from the University of Kansas and Adrian Shepard from Madison College.
Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series.
Collegiate Recreation has evolved from primarily intramurals and club sports to include aquatics, outdoor/challenge education, fitness, wellness, environmentalism and sustainability. With this growth comes great opportunity for recreation professionals to expand their knowledge and help meet the emerging needs of those they serve on a holistic level.
Research continues to show the positive impact Collegiate Recreation has on student recruitment, retention, academic performance, life skills development and wellbeing. However, this opportunity to impact others isn’t without challenges. In particular, (especially in fitness and facility operations), understanding what steps to take when there is a concern for students who may be struggling with high-risk behaviors such as eating disorders and over-exercise. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 95% of those with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 26. The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders found that of this population, nearly 25% of college-age women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight management technique.
Contrary to popular believe, such behaviors aren’t limited to females as 10-15% of males struggle with anorexia or bulimia (Carlat and Camargo, 1997). Research also indicates that over one-half of females and nearly one-third of males attempt to control their weight by skipping meals, fasting and taking laxatives (Neumark-Sztainer, 2005). Media and perception complicates matters by reinforcing unhealthy behaviors as the body type portrayed in advertising as ideal is possessed by just 5% of American females (Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, 2003). As people attempt to lose weight, 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of this population, 20-25% progress to partial or full eating disorders.
As a result, campus personnel have dedicated more time and effort towards identifying program participants and recreation facility patrons who could be at risk (Shisslak, C.M., Crago, M., Estes, L.S. 1995). Read more