Eating disorders are becoming more prevalent among preteen girls, but symptoms of anorexia and bulimia often reach their peak in college, according to a researcher.
Recent studies indicate 25 percent of female undergrads felt their eating was "out of control" and six percent admitted to using laxatives or purging, according to Remuda Ranch, a treatment center for women and girls with eating disorders.
Other findings show 30 percent of college-age women are extremely worried about body image and 25 percent are extremely worried about weight control.
Marian Eberly, vice-president of development at Remuda Ranch, reasons the higher than usual incidences of eating disorders among college students with "other issues such as individuation, emancipation, intimacy, academic pressures and financial responsibility."
"Eating disorder symptoms can begin in early adolescence, but often reach their peak in the college years," she said in a released statement.
Earlier studies by the treatment center revealed 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of becoming fat. Remuda Ranch reported seeing a 300 percent increase in the number of calls from preteen patients.
Once students enter college, there is always the fear of the so-called "Freshman 15" with unlimited cafeteria food and late night snacks. However, no longer getting the three meals a day from Mom and Dad, college students may also lose weight. Eberly equates the separation from parents as a risk to worsening an eating disorder that may have already been triggered in early adolescence.
"Students in college are no longer under the watchful eye of their parents and are left to their own devices to make nutritional decisions," said Eberly.
Remuda Ranch reported that such disorders as anorexia and bulimia often result in significant medical and psychological disturbances. They not only affect the physical health of the college student, but emotions and cognition as well.
Remuda Ranch provides intensive inpatient and residential programs for women and girls suffering from eating disorders and related issues. Remuda Treatment Programs are Christian-based, but offers healing to patients of all faiths.