Health Topics


Don't be fooled! What is shown in the media or what we see on social media oftentimes creates an unrealistic picture of what someone's body should look like. More often than not, these images are edited or altered giving us the impression that they are real when in fact, the person looks completely different in real life. Too many times good health and proper nutrition are sacrificed trying to reach these unrealistic goals. Don't let the what you see on television or online dictate your life! Understanding and practicing good nutritional habits, taking care of yourself and loving your body will ultimately lead to a happier life where you will both look and feel great.

Click here for more information on Nutrition: Nutrition WellFacts Sheet

How can I look and feel healthy in an anorexic world?

The media is quick to pounce on celebrities who suffer from eating disorders and then quickly turn around and attack those who have attained a healthy weight.  We strive to be unrealistically thin and eat unhealthy because we are told that is how we should look.  Let's look at these facts:

  • The average height and weight for a model is 5'10" and 110 lbs.
  • The average height and weight for the average woman is 5'4" and 145 lbs.

  • 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
  • 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.
  • The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females!

With the media dictating an unrealistic vision of what we should look like, is it any wonder that eating disorders and body image are a real concern for today's college students?

How do I know if I have a problem with eating disorders? How do I know if I need help?

Do any of these statements describe how you feel?

  • I think my diet is out of control.
  • I feel out of control when I eat.
  • I feel scared around food.
  • I am scared that if I eat normally I will gain weight.
  • I am scared that I am fat but no one is telling me.
  • I want to lose weight so people will like me more.
  • I throw up sometimes after I eat.
  • I throw up almost every time after I eat
  • I skip meals a lot or throw my lunch away.
  • I don't eat the foods I used to like because they're fattening.
  • I will not miss a day of exercise.
  • I am scared to miss a day of exercise.
  • I have lost more than 5 pounds this month.
  • I think about food so much that it is interfering with my life.
  • I spend my day thinking about where, when, and what I will eat.
  • I like to think about food all the time.  It is the best part of my life.
  • I think I need help but I'm scared.

If you agree with any of these statements, there is someone to help you:


Contact SMU's Registered Dietician Rachel Kolm in Dining Services at

A Mental Health Professional (psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor):

Visit the Counseling Services website here to book an appointment with a licensed mental health provider

Remember, an evaluation with a dietician or therapist is just one appointment.  If you don't feel comfortable with the first dietician or therapist that you meet with, there are many others.  Don't give up if you don't connect with the first one!

If you hesitate to call a dietician or mental health professional, consider bringing this checklist to your doctor, nurse, minister, rabbi, school counselor, or someone else you trust.

And....please call 911 if an individual is a danger to him or herself!

Body Image & Eating Disorder FAQs

General Facts:

  • Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.
  • Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. Only 35% of people that receive treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders.
  • Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

For Students:

  • 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted "often" or "always."
  • 86% report onset of eating disorder by age 20; 43% report onset between ages of 16 and 20.
  • Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.
  • 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
  • 25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.
  • The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.

For Women:

  • Women are much more likely than men to develop an eating disorder. Only an estimated five to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.
  • An estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of women suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime.
  • Research suggests that about 1 percent of female adolescents have anorexia.15 * An estimated 1.1 to 4.2 percent of women have bulimia nervosa in their lifetime.
  • An estimated 2 to 5 percent of Americans experience binge-eating disorder in a 6-month period.
  • About 50 percent of people who have had anorexia develop bulimia or bulimic patterns.

For Men:

  • An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.
  • Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are "woman's diseases."
  • Among gay men, nearly 14% appeared to suffer from bulimia and over 20% appeared to be anorexic.  

If you have any questions about body image and eating disorders on campus please contact:

SMU Community Health Education at 214-768-2393

*Eating disorders most commonly refer to Anorexia Nervosa, but also include Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder.  A more in depth look at eating disorders as well as additional resources can be found on the Counseling and Psychiatric Services Self Help Library: Eating Disorders web page.

Information Source:s Understanding Nutrition website. Eating Disorder Hope website