SPECIAL REPORT: The cause and effects that lead to eating disorders - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

SPECIAL REPORT: The cause and effects that lead to eating disorders

By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -Professional counselors clearly see the effects of eating disorders.  Sunken eyes and pencil thin arms are often the most noticeable clues.  Unfortunately, the image isn't so clear for anorexics.

"Even though you may see every bone in their body, literally through the skin, they will look at themselves in the mirror and often times think they are fat," said Dr. Debra Burton, a specialist in the field.

Studies have proven both anorexia and bulimia have strong genetic components. Anorexia is 71 percent hereditary, for bulimia it's 55 percent hereditary.

"Genetics loads the gun. Environmental factors serve as the trigger, as a firing mechanism," said Burton.

Societal pressures are blamed the most, starting with the media.

"The average model is 5'11" and weighs 117 pounds and by all standards that would be anorexic," Burton.

"They're always the same. How not to eat and how to get a man," said Alicia Stoker, an eating disorder survivor.  

Stoker recalls when she strived to look like a runway model.

"I used to be the Cosmo queen," said Stocker

But today as Stoker recovers from eating disorders, she realizes the unattainable images are often fake. 

"It's basically feeding us this image of perfection that nobody is actually ever going to achieve cause the people they put on the cover aren't even really like this," explains Stocker.

About 20 percent of the women ages 18 to 29 are trying to lose weight, although they're not overweight.

Counselors frequently recognize this on university campuses. They know personality traits may lead to the obsessive behavior.

"And underneath that many times are poor self image, poor self esteem and kinda trouble liking themselves overall," said Charlotte Jackson, an SFA Counselor.

"Because I have an eating disorder and I'm constantly praying, God, please take it away. It doesn't affect my decision making so much about food. I don't not eat. I don't throw up anymore, but it still affects how you see yourself," said Stocker.

Now Alicia uses some of that energy teaching others the killing triggers of eating disorders while trained counselors emphasize to their patients what's happening isn't their fault.

Eating disorder expert Dr. Deborah Michael will speak at SFA on Friday, Feb. 19 at 4 p.m., in the Kennedy Auditorium.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week is Feb. 22-26. Informational panels will be displayed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Baker Patillo Student Center.

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