Eating disorder help in focus after revelation of student's death

A spotlight has been put on what resources are available to students seeking help with eating disorders at Central Michigan University following the death of 22-year-old Holland senior Kelly Markatos last semester

Markatos died of probable complications associated with bulimia on Sept. 3.

Ross Rapaport, director of the Central Michigan University counseling center, said there are many resources available to students dealing with an eating disorder or body-image issues.

“It's certainly not a one point in time letting students know about it,” he said. “It's a very difficult process to educate students fully.”

Rapaport said education on the issues pertaining to eating disorder help, prevention and treatment options begins for students at freshman orientation.

There is information available on campus detailing where and how to seek treatment on the counseling center's website, including a list of treatment centers located in the mid-Michigan area, around the state and around the country.

There are three types of assistance that students can obtain if seeking help for an eating disorder, he said.

“One is medical assistance because of the physical health concern,” Rapaport said. “Second is mental health-related concerns because of the emotional and psychological-related concerns that are often part of these.”

The third, he said, is seeking out a registered dietitian, or someone who is licensed to help people with their eating habits, including what to eat and how much to eat. However, there is not a registered dietitian on campus, though they are available in the area.

Determining a disease

The Mayo Clinic, a not-for-profit medical research facility headquartered in Rochester, Minn., defines bulimia nervosa as binging (or eating large amounts of food) then purging the food from the body by vomiting or by excessively exercising.

Anorexia nervosa, a similar yet vastly different disorder, is caused by a person obsessing about their weight and food intake as well as maintaining a body weight that is lower than normal for the person's age, height or weight.

People with anorexia nervosa will often starve themselves or exercise too much.

CMU's chapter of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority works with the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders to raise awareness of issues surrounding eating disorders.

The sorority, which has about 80 members, has put on a week-long series of events the past three years to spread awareness of eating disorder issues with the sorority's "Be True to You Week," said Delta Phi Epsilon President Stephanie Pastrana.

The Rochester senior said events include a candlelight vigil to remember those who passed because of eating disorders, a self-esteem workshop, a pasta dinner to raise money for the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, and a pageant with male contestants called “Deepher Dude."

During the event, contestants dress in anything they feel comfortable with and are asked questions about their outfits, some of which are funny, while other questions asked deal with more serious issues such as eating disorders.

Pastrana said eating disorders, although commonly associated with females, affect both genders.

The American College Health Association's National College Health Assessment for the spring 2013 semester reported 0.6 percent of males and 1.2 percent of females had been diagnosed or treated by a professional for bulimia within the last 12 months.

Similarly, 0.6 percent of males and 1.3 percent of females had been diagnosed or treated by a professional for anorexia nervosa within the same timeframe, according to the NCHA survey.

“We never do females and males just struggling with eating disorders,” she said. “One of the things we do focus on is having it be a gender-equal issue. It's not just a guy or girl issue.”


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