By: Denise Stewart

As Intermountain Regional Coordinators for Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW), Foundation for Change and Center for Change had the opportunity this past month to engage in several activities aimed at raising awareness of the growing problem of eating disorders. The primary focus of this week (Feb. 20-28) was on our local college campuses, as the prevalence of eating disorders among college-age women is continually on the rise. A recent People Magazine feature on eating disorders reported that at least 1 in 10, possibly 1 in 5, female students have an eating disorder; 70 percent of campuses reported the problem as “common”. Awareness campaigns, body image workshops and fairs on college and university campuses were well attended; students participated in activities such as scale bashing pinatas, free massages, no-diet information booths and fortune-telling bathroom scales. Participants were also able to complete an eating disorder screening questionnaire either at the college or through the Internet to help them assess a possible problem. Treatment options and education were also available on-site for those who needed assistance. Many family and friends of those who suffer from anorexia or bulimia were seen gathering information for their loved ones. Approximately 300 screening questionnaires were completed during the week. The screening results will be tabulated for research purposes and will be reported in a future newsletter issue. Lectures, panel discussions, and firesides featuring eating disorder experts and women recovering from eating disorders were held on campuses throughout the week.

One of the highlights of Eating Disorder Awareness Week was the “Living Real” fashion show held at the Provo Towne Centre. Produced by Brigham Young University, the show featured beautiful women of all shapes and sizes. A refreshing change from the traditional stick-thin model shows, the enthusiastic audience cheered at the celebration of diversity. Another highlight was the signing of an official proclamation by Governor Michael O. Leavitt, declaring February 20-28, 1999 as Utah Eating Disorders Awareness Week. As Governor Leavitt signed the proclamation, he stated that he had not previously been aware of the incredible number of women in the state of Utah who currently struggle with an eating disorder.

We would like to thank all of those individuals who worked to make this awareness week such a success. It is only through your hard work that we are able to educate the public about the magnitude of this growing problem. We look forward to next year’s activities with the determination that we will continue to provide education, hope and healing to those who are looking for answers to the complex issues associated with eating disorders.

The confidential eating disorder questionnaire can still be accessed at www.edaw.org.