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Eating Concerns Awareness Week educates female, male students on body image

By Fatima Jaber, Contributing Writer

Feb. 27 marked the end of Eating Concerns Awareness Week at the University of New Hampshire, a week brought to campus by the Eating Concerns Mentors (ECMs), a Health Services peer education group that consists of about 20 mentors.

ECMs are requested anonymously by students and keep in touch with their mentee through email, text or in person.

Through this contact, ECMs aim to provide assistance to struggling students in need of advice in regards to their body image or eating disorder.

It is not uncommon for college students to struggle with eating disorders. According the Multi-service Eating Disorders Association (MEDA), 40 percent of female college students have eating disorders and 91 percent of female college students have attempted to control their weight through diet. Females, however, are not the only ones who suffer from eating disorders. Experts from MEDA say that eating disorders among male college students are also increasing.

With eating disorders being common among college students, ECMs here at UNH stepped it up during Eating Concerns Awareness Week to spread knowledge among the campus.

Different events took place, such as Operation Beautiful. During this weeklong event, fitness instructors at Campus Recreation passed out notes for class participants to write body positive statements to post around the studio or take with them for their residence hall/apartment.

“Love the Jeans You’re In” clothesline exhibit and resource table was also set up during the week from 5-7 p.m. This display aimed to show students that keeping a pair of pants as motivation to lose weight is unhealthy and can lead to problems. Jean donations were also taken at the table.

On Tuesday, the movie “For the Love of Nancy” took place at 5:30 p.m. in Theatre II in the Memorial Union Building. This movie tells the story of a college girl who struggles with anorexia. After the movie, a discussion with UNH students who have struggled with eating disorders took place. Maria Caplan, the UNH Nutrition Educator/Counselor, was also there to answer any questions.

As a part of her job, Caplan deals with students with eating disorders on a daily basis.

“The majority of patients I see are eating concerns, and they make up approximately 85 percent of my clientele,” Caplan said.

According to Caplan, patients range from freshman to graduate students. Although most identify as females, many males seek help as well.

Tim Mitsopoulos, a grad student here at UNH tries to watch what he eats when it comes to his diet.

“I don’t eat what’s around, but try to eat real foods, not junk food. I don’t watch my calories or carbs but I try not to eat processed food,” Mitsopoulos said.

Kaplan encourages people to seek help from the Eating Concerns services here at UNH.

“Get help. This is a disease. If you had cancer would you ‘take care of it yourself?’ No. So get help. Eating disorders are the deadliest of mental health diseases. We are here to help,” Caplan said.

For more information on how to help you can seek help about eating concerns, contact Health Services.

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