Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Is Body Image Affecting Your Health?

By: Meghan Van Camp, RD, LD/N - UCF Wellness Center Nutritionist

For many students, both males and females, body image is a sensitive topic that causes stress and feelings of inadequacy. These students have a distorted view of a healthy body image which can be detrimental to their health and well being.

There are many influences affecting one’s self image. In particular, the barrage of images that the media supplies can not be overlooked. From the pages of fashion magazines to the actors in movies and mannequins in store windows, we are confronted with super thin or super hero images that are not realistic and usually unobtainable in a healthy way.

Let’s put things into perspective.

The average woman is 5 feet 4 inches and weights 140 pounds. That represents a BMI of 24 which is considered a healthy weight by all nutritional standards.

The average model, on the other hand, measures 5 feet 11 inches and weighs 114 pounds. This size has a BMI of 16.3 which is classified as malnourished.

Many models employ dangerous eating habits that can result in tragic health issues. After a model died from cardiac arrest while walking the runway, the modeling industry in Madrid created new regulations to help insure the model’s health. Models are now required to maintain a minimum BMI of 18 to work in Madrid.

Eight million people have eating disorders in America alone. Eating disorders are accompanied by lack of self esteem, lack of confidence and stress resulting from their negative body image. This can lead not only to serious health issues but can hold individuals back from accomplishing their goals in life. Symptoms of negative body image include chronic dieting, constant negative thoughts about one’s body, preoccupation with numbers, and little concern for one’s overall health.

If some of these issues feel like they are getting out of control for you or a friend, help is all around you. UCF students can get advice and assistance from professionals at the Wellness Center, Counseling Center and Health Center. Call 407.823.2811 for Counseling, 407.823.3850 for an appointment with a Dietitian or Health Center provider, or drop by the Wellness Center on the first floor of RWC to discuss your concerns with a Certified Peer Consultant who can help you decide on the next step.

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