Category Archives: Body Image

Eating Disorder Resources

“Eating disorders — such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating – include extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. They are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males. In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life” (NEDA, 2016)

Are you interested in learning more about eating disorders? Visit the websites below. You’ll also learn about how you can foster a body positive environment.


Are you or someone you know struggling? A team at Penn State’s University Health Services (UHS) and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) can help. The staff are dedicated to working with and helping students who are battling eating disorders. Use the contact information below to call for an appointment.

Healthy Eating and Living Support (HEALS)
University Health Services (UHS) Medical Appointments 863-0774
UHS Nutrition Clinic 863-0461
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) 863-0395

Diet? What Diet?

Are you fed up with “diets” and realize that they just don’t work?  If so, you’ll be happy to know that research also shows diets don’t work (Mann, 2007)[i].  Diets often eliminate food groups and cause an imbalance in nutrient intake. Typically, diets are too restrictive to maintain on a regular basis.  They leave people feeling deprived, which in turn back fires and can cause people to overindulge in the foods they were avoiding.  If you want to make healthy changes to your diet, reject the diet mentality and embrace intuitive eating.

Intuitive eating (Bush, 2014)[ii] means listening to your body. Honor your hunger by eating.  And respect when you feel full.  Challenge the food police that categorize food as “good” or “bad” and instead, enjoy all food in moderation. Make food choices that reinforce your health and make you feel well.  When you are bored, stressed, or feel emotional, instead of using food as your comfort, engage in an activity that will help you manage your stress and work through your emotions.  Respect your body so you can feel good about it and be the best version of you.

Want to learn more about intuitive eating?  Read Intuitive Eating, A Revolutionary Program that Works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.  You can browse through the book in the student resource area in 201 Student Health Center.

[i] Mann T, Tomiyama AJ, Westling E, et al. Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments: diets are not the answer. Am Psychol. 2007;62:220–233.

[ii] Bush H, Rossy L, Mintz L, & Schopp (2014). Eat for Life: A Worksite Feasibility Study of a Novel Mindfulness-based Intuitive Eating Intervention. Am J Health Promotion (July/Aug):380-388.


Penn State Student Health Assessment Report – 2016

Do PSU students get enough sleep?  How about enough exercise? Are students eating enough fruits and veggies?

The answers to these questions and more can be found in the 2016 Student Health Assessment Report.  Data in the report are based on the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA) that was conducted at Penn State. The report provides information about PSU students’ health habits, behavior, and perceptions.

The survey was conducted in March 2016 with a random sample of 10,500 students.  Students were contacted by email and invited to participate in the online survey. The report highlights the responses of 1,776 Penn State students who completed the survey (a 17% response rate). When compared to the overall University Park student population, females, White students, and Asian Students were over-represented among survey respondents. As a result, caution should be taken when interpreting these data as the data may not accurately reflect the health behaviors of the University Park student population as a whole.

PSU Annual Report 2016

Eating Disorder Awareness

Eating Disorder Awareness

If someone is showing signs of an eating disorder, early intervention can significantly decrease the likelihood that a more serious, life threatening eating disorder will develop. Early intervention can prevent years of struggle and can lead to greater chances for full recovery. [1]

Here are some of the signs that a person may be struggling with an eating disorder:

  • Chronic dieting despite being underweight
  • Constant weight fluctuations
  • Obsession with calories and fat contents of food
  • Engaging in ritualistic eating patterns, such as cutting food into tiny pieces, eating alone, and/or hiding food
  • Continued fixation with food, recipes, or cooking; the individual may cook intricate meals for others but refrain from eating
  • Depression or lethargy
  • Avoiding social functions, family and friends. May become isolated and withdrawn
  • Switching between periods of overeating and fasting[2]

The National Eating Disorders Association offers a free and confidential online screening for eating disorders. The screening only takes a few minutes. At the end, you will be given information and next steps.

Campus Resources:

Internet Resources:





Love Your Body Week: October 19th-23rd

HealthWorks peer educators spent the week encouraging students to love, appreciate, nurture, and respect their body.   Students who attended fitness classes in White Building during this week were welcomed with positive messages on the mirrors and hearts decorating the walls, encouraging them to think more positively about their bodies.  Peer educators encouraged students to write why they love their body on a sticky note or write a negative thought they have about their body on a balloon and pop it at the Love Your Body table in various locations on campus throughout the week.  Those who live in the Residence Halls may have noticed sticky notes with positive messages adorning the mirrors on their floor.  To find out more about how you can foster a body positive environment for others and yourself check out:

Love Your Body Week Balloon Display
Love Your Body Week Balloon Display

Brian Cuban to Break Silence on Eating Disorders in Men

Eating disorders among boys and men have come to be known as a silent epidemic. While an estimated 10 million American men will struggle with a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lives, the issue isn’t widely addressed.

Penn State alum and best-selling author Brian Cuban is looking to change that. As part of UHS’s Love Your Body Week (October 27-31), Cuban will speak about his successful recovery from depression, 27 years of eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, and drug addiction. An advocate for mental health awareness, Cuban seeks to break the male eating disorder stigma and reassure others that recovery is possible.

The event is free of charge and will be held Monday 10/27 at 7 pm in the HUB Auditorium.


Researchers now studying link between social media and poor body image

Could Facebook be serving up a side of low self-esteem along with the latest news and gossip? A recent study suggests that the more time young women spend on Facebook, the more likely they are to suffer from poor body image.

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde, Ohio University, and University of Iowa surveyed 881 female college students about their Facebook use, eating habits, and body image. On average, women in the study spent almost an hour and a half per day browsing their news feeds and looking at photos. Women who spent more time on the site, especially those wanting to lose weight, were more likely to compare their bodies to those of peers, as well as feel bad about their bodies.

While these findings don’t prove that Facebook and other social media sites cause poor body image, they’re still a cause for concern—body dissatisfaction is a strong risk factor for dieting and eating disorders.

Up to this point, most criticism has targeted mass media and the fashion industry’s use of super-thin models and photo retouching techniques. This study is among the first to examine the effects of social media on body image.

Social media users tend to present the best “version” of themselves, even going so far as to retouch photos.  These idealized images may affect women even more than mass media images since they’re supposedly more realistic coming from friends and peers.

Read more here and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments.