Eating disorders plague many college-aged men and women

"I think freshmen are most vulnerable to this mindset because they go from being big fish in small ponds to not even being in the pond, so they figure their looks must be the problem," Shanks says. Diane Mickley, M.D., president of the Greenwich, CT-based Wilkins Center for Eating Disorders, agrees that college students who are struggling to adjust to their new lives are at increased risk for eating disorders -- particularly when they are perfectionists about grades. "The temperament that makes these kids academically successful tends to be the same one that precipitates eating disorders," Mickley explains. "The higher achieving the kid, the higher the risk."

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There also seems to be a gender gap. While men can develop eating disorders "for exactly the same reasons as women," according to Mickley, homosexuality appears to be an added risk factor for male college students. Other studies suggest some females may use a weight obsession to numb the pain of date rape.

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"It's also possible eating disorders have nothing specifically to do with the college environment," suggests Dr. James Mitchell, a University of North Dakota (UND, Fargo, ND) neuroscience professor and department chair, who has run a clinical eating disorders research program for nearly 25 years. "Coincidentally, the peak age for bulimia is 18, which just so happens to be the same age as most college freshmen."

The Facts & Statistics College Women Student Leadership Barriers Why College Women Students Need Campus Calm: Ambitious female college students, our next generation of women leaders, are experiencing anxiety, depression, stress, overwhelm, perfectionism, eating disorders and sleep difficulties.
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Ambitious female college students, our next generation of women leaders, are experiencing anxiety, depression, stress, overwhelm, perfectionism, eating disorders and sleep difficulties. These are all barriers to women's health and confidence building, which become barriers to women's leadership. Confident, healthy young women lead with resilience!

"Women leaders feel internal and external pressure to not only 'do it all,' but to do it all 'perfectly.' The undo pressure we place on ourselves to be perfect leads far too many of our female college students to experience anxiety, depression, insomnia, overwhelm, poor self-esteem and chronic stress."

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