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In the Media | How College Independence is Causing Increases in Eating Disorders

Published by: The Beacon Today
Written By: Daniella Pacheco

Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders, located in Coconut Creek, Florida (Photo Courtesy: Lindsey Brodowski)

As college freshmen settle into their new lives away from home, they may not be aware that their relationship with food could undergo significant changes due to the new environment and newfound freedom. The Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders, located in Coconut Creek, Florida, suggests a potential correlation between increased freedom in college and the prevalence of eating disorders.

Eating disorders are complex conditions influenced by various factors contributing to their development and the maintenance of their symptoms. Research indicates that eating disorders often result from a hyper-complex interaction between genetics and environments, particularly during times of transition or distress.

This could include anything from puberty, menopause, significant life events such as losing a loved one, ending a relationship or even relocation. Moving to college, especially in a new city or state, can add to the stressors leading to eating disorders.

Dr. Melanie Smith, a clinician at the Renfrew Center, observes a connection between life in college and the development of eating disorders. The transitions and adaptation to a new environment can oftentimes trigger these disorders, putting students at risk. Dr. Smith continued to express that factors and stigmas such as the dreaded “freshman 15,” and higher levels of stress and anxiety can be counted as potential risks to behaviors associated with these disorders.

“College creates the perfect storm of biological, social and cultural factors that can contribute to the development of an eating disorder,” said Dr. Smith.


Read the full article here. 

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