Eating Disorders

Hello everyone! I have been working on my Honors Scholar capstone for the past several weeks, and I’d like to share my abstract so far with you:

College students are one of the more vulnerable population groups when it comes to mental health issues, and approximately one in four students have a diagnosable mental health concern, one of those being eating disorders. Students, especially women, have an increase focus on their body image and are willing to go to extreme measures to change their bodies’ shapes and sizes through unhealthy diet, purging, binging, or similar action. In the past, eating disorders have been primarily a Western disease, but research has suggested that Nonwestern countries are beginning to have eating disorder prevalence rates as high as some Western countries. Therefore, this study’s objectives are to compare the prevalence rates of eating disorders of college students in Western and Nonwestern countries to determine if the Nonwestern prevalence rates are indeed increasing as much as some studies have indicated. Furthermore, this study will also look into the history of eating disorders to determine if there are any trends that might be influencing the prevalence rates in both Western and Nonwestern countries. Eating disorders that will be examined are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and eating disorders not otherwise specified. This research is important to determine 1) whether or not Nonwestern college students are being affected by eating disorders, 2) if the prevalence rates of eating disorders in college students in Eating DisorderWestern and Nonwestern countries are increasing, and 3) what trends in the past have been occurring that might have influenced the prevalence of eating disorders. It is predicted that the prevalence rates have been rising in both Western and Nonwestern countries for all eating disorders.

To collect this data, I have been doing a systematic review of all studies since the 1980s that focus on the prevalence rates of eating disorders. I have been using databases such as Academic Search Complete, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Medline, ProQuest, and PubMed as well as resources from the NIU library to collect this data. To organize the data, I created an Excel file with a master spreadsheet and a spreadsheet for each study I have utilized. I will continue searching for research on prevalence rates and start drafting my proposal in these next few weeks. I believe that my summer research will provide valuable results on eating disorder prevalence rates and help to determine whether or not Western and Nonwestern countries need to focus more on decreasing the prevalence of eating disorders in the world.

by Ashley Kyle

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