By Lauren Huneycutt

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 25 percent of college students suffer from an eating disorder. February 24 to March 1 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Nationwide, campuses participate in bringing attention to this week and raising money for the association.

The University of Nevada, Reno will participate in bringing awareness to eating disorders by hosting two main events. Thursday, February 27  Caitlin Boyle will speak in the Joe Crowley Student Union from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Boyle is promoting Operation Beautiful.

“She is giving a very uplifting speech about body image and who you are,” said Maureen Molini, dietitian in the student health center on campus. “The media is damaging, and a lot of people do not have a positive body image or a positive view of who they are. Operation Beautiful is trying to change that.

So that will be a feel-good speech.” On Saturday, March 1, the university will host a charity walk. “The NEDA Walk is an event for the community,” said Molini, who has organized the walk, which will start at 9:30 a.m. in front of the student union.

“Dogs are welcome, and there will be music, a raffle and photo booth.” Guest speaker Erin Akers, will give a speech at the walk about her recovery from Diabulimia, a unique eating disorder in which type 1 diabetics manipulate their insulin in order to lose weight.

“The event should be really fun and educational, and we want to try and get a lot of students there,” Molini said. “Last year we raised over $11,000.” The health center and counseling services work together to create a four-part team that specializes in eating disorders and disordered eating.

Two psychologists, a doctor and a dietitian, Molini, collaborate to help students who seek treatment on campus. Early treatment and intervention improves chances at full recovery of an eating disorder, so this week is part of an effort to bring awareness of eating disorders, but also the services available to students in the health center here at UNR. “Essentially, getting help on campus is free,” Molini said. “A lot of people don’t know this service is available. I see a lot of different things from anorexia to binge eating disorders, and some students who don’t have a full-blown eating disorder, but are struggling with their relation ship with food.”

Approximately 10 million men and 20 million women will experience an eating disorder at some point in their lives, according to NEDA statistics. “Our dieting culture is concerning,” Molini said. “And eating disorders have always had a stigma about them in our culture.” NEDA statistics show that eating disorders affect over 30 million people, but only receive $28 million in government funding for research. Anorexia Nervosa has the highest premature mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

In contrast, Alzheimer’s, which affects 5.1 million people, receives $450 million. “People feel empathy and sadness for people with Alzheimer’s because that disease just happens to people,” Molini said. “But with eating disorders, there is this idea of individual responsibility and self infliction that makes people think ‘how could you do that to yourself,’ when really both are classified as psychiatric disorders.”

According to Molini, it is sometimes hard for people to know what is disordered and what is not when it comes to food. “We do treatments based on medical practices,” Molini said. “But treating for an eating disorder is kind of an art. Each one is different.”

The health center’s event coordinator, Enid Jennings, is taking extra steps to help promote the week, the health center’s services and a positive body image around campus for men and women. “We are setting up a bunch of Post-its around campus with positive notes on them for students to read,” Jennings said. “We want to help students be happy with who they are inside and out.”

Lauren Huneycutt can be reached at