Black women are more likely than white women to have repeated episodes of binge eating disorder, according to studies released by the National Women’s Health Information Center this year.
Episodes of binge eating are putting more black women at risk for obesity.
According to the NWHIC, binge eating disorder occurs when people have no control over their desires to eat. A person usually eats more quickly than normal and eats large amounts of food during binge eating.
A binge eater will often eat in secret and has an inability to eat with others because of fear of embarrassment.
For years there have been myths that black women do not have eating disorders, but the percentage of black women who suffer from the disorders have continued to rise since 2000.
A study done in 2001 by Mulholland and Mintz of the University of Missouri-Columbia reported that eating disorders are just as common among black women in college as white women in college.
According to the study, about two percent of black women in college have an eating disorder.
The Mulholland and Mintz study also concluded that because African-American culture presents women with the idea that skinny women are unattractive some black women tend to gain weight by binge eating.
According to the Centers for Disease Control binge eating can lead to obesity which can be held accountable for as many as 300,00 deaths a year.
Black women are at a high risk of becoming obese. According to the CDC about 66 percent of black women are overweight and 37 percent are technically obese.
>According to Cindy McLean, director of patient relations at Canopy Cove Eating Disorder Treatment Center, not only can binge eating lead to obesity but it can cause many physical problems.
Binge eating can cause depression and mood swings, joint problems, sleep disturbances, anxiety and hypertension.
Eating disorders found in black women, especially at the college age can be largely attributed to issues with self-esteem according to the NWHIC and previous research done in the ’90s by Essence magazine. Black Women who don’t fit societies “ideal” women have trouble accepting themselves for who they are.
Most of the images women try to live up to come from the media’s portrayal of women. For instance, models are seen mostly on television, the average model is 5’11 and 117 pounds and the average woman is 5’4 and 140 pounds according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
The Association also reports that 80 percent of women are dissatisfied with their appearance.
As black women continue to face their every day issues, they must realize the importance of their physical health. Some students say one way to solve the problems that black women have with their physical appearance is to just make bigger sizes more accepted.
“If organizations on campus would start showing that full-figured women are beautiful, then women would be more accepting of their outer appearance. For example, if some of the modeling troupes on campus started using full figured models it would show the others that they are beautiful too,” said Tamara Lo-Ray, a junior early childhood education student from Pompano Beach.
The key to curing an eating disorder is not just controlling how and what you eat but also the psychological aspects of person, according to McLean.
“A woman should be able to appreciate herself individually and appreciate the strengths she has,” said McLean.