Tackling body image issues

Go ahead, celebrate your natural size.

That’s the message the U of C Eating Awareness Team will promote during National Eating Disorder Week, which runs Feb. 4-10. The team, comprised of various representatives from groups concerned with student health and body image, formed to address what they see as a major issue on campus.

“We see many students with eating and body image issues,” said Anne Laverty, a counsellor at the Counselling and Student Development Centre. “It’s a very common problem.”

The week will start with an evening performance of the play I Eat at the Libin Lecture Theatre in the Health Sciences Centre. Tuesday, a Self-Perception booth will be set up in MacEwan Student Centre to provide students with information on eating disorders.

“There are two recognized eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, and then there’s a third one that’s not as well-studied called binge eating disorder,” said Kristin von Ranson, an assistant professor of Psychology whose clinical and research area of interest is eating disorders.

She pointed out that one can have an eating problem even if he or she does not exhibit all the symptoms necessary to be diagnosed with one of the three disorders.

“Disordered eating and compulsive exercise are not as severe, but they are still issues that must be dealt with,” she said.

Colleen Parsons, Manager of the Fitness and Lifestyle Centre and a nutritionist, was drawn to the team because she saw evidence of these issues in her facility and wanted to raise some awareness.

“We have a number of people who are very clearly overexercisers and/or undereaters,” she said. “At any given time, there’s one to three people we are concerned about, and that’s one-to-three too many.”

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