Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders Offers Free Screenings for Eating Problems Feb. 24-27

The Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, a training clinic operated by the Yale University psychology department, will join hundreds of colleges, hospitals and treatment centers across the country in the second National Eating Disorders Screening Program (NEDSP) during Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Feb. 23-28. The screening is designed primarily for high school and college students, but all are welcome to attend.

Psychologists from the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders will provide free and anonymous public screenings on:

– Wednesday, Feb. 25 – Quinnipiac College Alumni Hall, Hamden, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

– Thursday, Feb. 26 – Yale University Women’s Center, 198 Elm St., from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Screenings also will be offered at two high schools for students only on:

– Tuesday, Feb. 24 – Sacred Heart Academy, 265 Benham St. in Hamden in the guidance office, from 9 a.m. to noon.

– Friday Feb. 27 – Daniel Hand High School, 302 Green Hill Road in Madison, from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

“Do you or your friends exercise compulsively and count calories in an effort to lose weight and be extremely thin?” asks Kristin Siebrecht, Ph.D. at Yale, who stresses that both men and women can have eating disorders. “Does your roommate run to the bathroom to throw up after a big meal? Is your girlfriend always dieting and thinking about the food she eats? Once you start eating, do you find that you are unable to stop? These behaviors are all signs that you or your friend may have an eating disorder. Before these illnesses get out of hand, learn how to get help.”

NEDSP is a public outreach effort designed to educate students about the serious consequences of eating disorders and direct those in need toward treatment. The program provides educational materials, including pamphlets and a video featuring recovering patients who have eating disorders. It also provides students with the opportunity to complete a screening questionnaire and to meet privately with an eating disorders specialist. Those who show symptoms of an eating disorder will be encouraged to make an appointment for a full evaluation. In addition, a list of community resources and referrals will be available.

“Each year, we see students with advanced eating disorders brought into health centers only after they have passed out while trying to jog. Even then, lying in a hospital bed with a weak heartbeat and almost no blood pressure, it often takes days for a student to admit she or he has been eating practically nothing and exercising compulsively,” said Kathy Hotelling, Ph.D., past president of the Association of University and College Counseling Directors.

Eating disorders affect more than 5 million Americans. One percent of adolescent girls develop anorexia nervosa, with an additional 2-3 percent of young women developing bulimia nervosa, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. In addition, many more Americans have disordered eating behaviors and unhealthy attitudes about food, weight and body image, Dr. Siebrecht says. A 1992 study revealed that 50 percent of 9-year-old girls and 80 percent of 10-year-old girls have dieted, underscoring America’s obsession with thinness.

“Eating disorders are illnesses that are associated with severe body image distortion and obsession with weight,” Dr. Siebrecht says. “Sufferers are terrified of gaining weight and continue to diet, binge, or binge and purge even as their mental and physical health deteriorate. In addition to depression and substance abuse disorders, victims of eating disorders can also develop heart problems, osteoporosis and reproductive difficulties. Left unchecked, eating disorders can kill.”

For more information, contact Dr. Siebrecht at (203) 432-7354.

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