UMass Lowell Connector Logo

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

(Photo Courtesy of UMass Medical School)
“Promotional graphic for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.”

Ellie Frederick
Connector Contributor

A few weeks ago, the United States observed Eating Disorder Awareness Week – 20% of female and 10% of male college students experience a reported eating disorder. However, many students suffer undiagnosed, struggling alone. However, students and experts report that more could be done to address disorders on college campuses.  

The ability to talk about eating disorders has become slightly more normalized, but there is still a long way to go according to Diet Dump podcast creator and nutrition expert, Tess Palin. She said, “I don’t think there is enough being done to educate vulnerable populations on eating disorders.”  

Natalie Pollet, an athletic trainer at UMass Lowell, says that college students are more susceptible to eating disorders due to the lack of financial stability and resources. It is much easier and less expensive to buy food that is lackluster in nutrients as healthier food often comes with a higher price tag. This makes it difficult for college students to provide themselves with consistent nutritious meals–seemingly impossible for three meals a day.  

“With hefty price tags on healthy eating options, it’s cheaper to eat unhealthy food or not even eat at all,” Pollet says. She goes on to mention that college athletes are extremely vulnerable to eating disorders particularly “incoming freshmen in college just to fit in or feel at a specific athletic body performance type.” 

Morgan Fisher says she has witnessed several peers struggle with eating disorders. Fisher states, “I see my other friends struggle with body issues feeling like they are not enough…looking over their shoulder to what specific standards might be rather than giving their body what it really needs.” 

As well as creating a podcast, Palin uses her TikTok platform to create body-positive content, eating disorder awareness and tips to help those who might need it to her 27 thousand followers. She stated, “There is a huge culture of misinformation on social media, which has motivated me to spread evidence-based information and eating disorder awareness to try and combat the damage.” 

National eating disorder week will likely continue to grow and receive more support in years to come. Many people do not have proper education on the topic which makes it difficult to find ways to reach out for help. Fisher offers the advice, “You should call it disordered eating. When you categorize it as an eating disorder, it makes it sound like a thing that you can’t recover from.” 

Unfortunately, the seven days of recognizing eating disorders and their effects on people are over. However, the ability to educate, become aware and have the ability to talk about these issues does not expire after a week. Palin said,“Without proper knowledge on these disorders, we can not create a supportive environment to encourage those struggling to seek the help they need.” 

For helpful information regarding eating disorders, Palin’s “Diet Dump” podcast is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. If you or someone you know are struggling with disordered eating and need help, UMass Lowell offers free counseling services at the wellness center.

Related posts