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Eating disorders more about vanity or dieting

Amid what many experts say is an obesity epidemic, an insidious problem is occurring among our youths.

Some are starving themselves literally to death, striving to achieve an ideal of beauty, and exert a level of control over their lives that ultimately can steal it away.

Eating disorders are about more than just vanity or dieting, health experts point out. This is a society where slenderness is often equated not just with beauty, but with accomplishment and happiness. Achieving an ideal slenderness thus can become an attempt to solve other problems, to “fit in” and feel a measure of success in life.

To help shed light on this complex psychological disorder, Southeast Missouri Community Treatment Center will host a two-hour program on March 2, along with partners Jefferson Memorial Hospital and Center Pointe Hospital, from 6-8 p.m. at 512 East Main Street in Park Hills.

Cathy Schroer, with the treatment center, says they have had a number of requests from local school districts for help with the problem.

“We have invited area school counselors to attend, but anyone who is interested is welcome,” she said.

Dr. Joyce Griffin, Licensed Psychologist, from CenterPointe Hospital in St. Louis will discuss the signs and symptoms of eating disorders.

Licensed nursing staff from Jefferson Memorial Hospital will be available to provide confidential screenings and answer questions.

Kim Buckley, a community resident, will be among the speakers. Her daughter died because of an eating disorder when she was a freshman in college. She had come home right around the holidays.

Schroer said she believes the desire to fit in is a powerful motivating force for many youths. “We see the models on television and we think that’s what we’re supposed to look like,” she said. “They’re having trouble attaining that and they want to fit in. That’s what they’re striving for.”

People may even unknowingly support the eating disorder when it first manifests by complimenting the person for losing weight and looking “better.”

“I think if people knew how the weight was lost, they would think twice about encouraging that,” Schroer said.

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