Eating Disorder Awareness

By Michael McCutcheon, M.A.

For many young people, going off to college represents a number of firsts in a student’s life, namely, it is the first time in one’s life when they become the lone decider with regard to eating and fitness habits. The idea of “The Freshman 15” is well known, as it refers to the approximately 15 pounds of body weight that many first-year college students gain as a result of the newfound freedom and responsibility of being Commander-in-Chief of one’s own health.

As parents, your main task at this time of transition is to be supportive. However, one can only be supportive to the extent that one is informed about the potential road bumps that lie ahead. With that in mind, it is crucial that parents be aware of the elevated risks of developing an eating disorder that college students face.

Though eating disorders do not discriminate with regard to race or gender, 90% of the people who suffer from eating disorders are women aged 12-25. A sobering statistic: 91% of women surveyed on college campuses have reported trying to control their weight by dieting and 25% of these individuals reported using purging techniques in the pursuit of weight loss (e.g., self-induced vomiting, laxatives, and diuretics). Young women who meet criteria for anorexia nervosa are 12 times more likely to die compared to their healthy counterparts due to complications related to anorexia, namely heart disease and suicide. The trend of college-aged women developing an eating disorder is not dissipating. On the contrary, there has been a steady, consistent rise in the number of young women struggling with eating disorders in the U.S. every decade since 1930.

Eating disorders affect young men as well; body image concerns are thought to be highly underreported by males due to seeing these issues as a “women’s problem” and due to masculinity being associated with fewer help-seeking behaviors.

In addition to gaining a newly acquired freedom with regard to eating, exercising, and privacy, young people have a major cultural factor against them as it relates to increased risk of developing eating issues and body insecurities – since birth, students have been bombarded with countless media images that display unattainable ideals of beauty and fitness, typically featuring photo-shopped models featuring impossibly flat stomachs and zero percent body fat. Young men, in particular, are constantly faced with covers of so-called health magazines that focus on big arm and chest muscles and cartoon-like abdominals, which may inspire them to eat very large amounts of protein-laden foods and adopt extreme exercise routines that result in many hours at the gym in the hopes of achieving a “perfect body.”

When faced with such a barrage of distorted images, it is no wonder that a staggering 30 million Americans (9% total population) meet the criteria for an eating disorder. These numbers are particularly frightening when paired with the fact that people struggling with an eating disorder are five times as likely to abuse alcohol or other drugs.

So what can you do to support your student with regard to avoiding and/or combatting eating concerns during this exciting time of personal and intellectual development? For starters, learn all you can about potential warning signs and habits that might indicate your student is struggling with negative feelings about their body. Once you feel more informed about what an eating disorder looks like, be persistent and be gentle. The most important thing you can do is to concentrate on your relationship, and your love and support for your student. Eating disorders, at their root, are not about weight or food.

Below are some helpful resources for learning more about eating disorders and how to talk with your student in a loving way about this sensitive subject:

Teenagers with Eating Disorders

Worried Your Teen Might Have an Eating Disorder?

How to Talk to Your Daughter about Her Eating Disorder

About Eating Disorders

CAPS Self-help Resources

National Eating Disorder Association hotline: 1-800-931-2237 (Click to Chat)

Sexual Assault Reporting

Callisto-College Sexual Assault Reporting

CALLISTO is a college sexual assault reporting website specifically designed and available for USF students to connect to resources, learn about reporting options, and to create a secure, private record of what happened to them. 


If you are in the midst of an emergency, please call USF Public Safety at 415-422-2911.

Medical Care

If you need immediate medical attention, please visit:
Trauma Recovery Center / Rape Treatment Center(TRC/RTC)
San Francisco General Hospital
2727 Mariposa St., #100
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 437-3011

On-Campus Free and Confidential Support:

USF Counseling and Psychological Services(CAPS)
Gilson Hall, Lower Level
(415) 422-6352

University Ministry (ask to speak to a clergy member)
Toler Hall, Lower Level
(415) 422-4463

San Francisco Resources

San Francisco Women Against Rape: (415) 647-7273 or

Community United Against Violence (CUAV) - (415) 333-4357 Serves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning communities

Domestic Violence - Riley's Center Crisis Line - (415) 255-0165 Advocates available for victims of domestic violence

La Casa de las Madres - Adults – (877) 503-1850;
Teens – (877) 923-0700
Counseling, information, resources, and referrals for survivors of domestic violence

Rape Treatment Center - (415) 437-3000
Those who have suffered from trauma, violence, and loss

Suicide Prevention - (415) 781-0500 Helping people who are having suicidal thoughts

WOMAN, Inc. - (415) 864-4722
Serving battered women in San Francisco and the larger Bay Area

24-Hour Crisis Lines

National Domestic Violence Hotline - (800) 799-SAFE
Advocates available for victims of domestic violence

National Sexual Assault Hotline - (800) 656-HOPE
Advocates available for victims of sexual assault

Victim of Crime Resource Center - (800) 842-8467
McGeorge law students provide resource and referral information to victims and their families, victim service providers, and other victim advocates.

Youth Crisis Line - (800) 843-5200
Youth needing assistance or in crisis situations

Digital Abuse

Domestic/Dating/Intimate Partner Violence

Abused Women's Services, Marin

(415) 924-6616 (crisis)
(415) 924-3456 (Spanish crisis line)

(415) 457-2464 (main office)

(415) 457-2421 (TTY)

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Intimate Partner Violence

Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse(CORA), San Mateo
Languages: English and Spanish
(800) 300-1080 or (650) 312-8515 (crisis)

(650) 259-1855 (legal services line for victims only)

(650) 652-0800 (office)

Languages: South Asian languages
(800) 215-7308 (help-line message machine will return calls in 24 hours)

(510) 444-6068 (office)

National Institute of Justice: Intimate Partner Violence

Office for Victims of Crime
Domestic and Family Violence

A Safe Place, Oakland

(510) 536-7233 (crisis)

(510) 986-8600 (office)

Shalom Bayit
Counseling for Jewish Women

(866) SHALOM-7 (help-line toll free)

(510) 451-8874 (office)

STAND! against Domestic Violence, Concord

(925) 676-2845 (office)

(888) 215-5555 (crisis)

Victim of Crime Resource Center
(800) 842-8467

Health Services

HealthRight 360
558 Clayton St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 746-1950

Lyon Martin Health Services
Provides health care to women, lesbians, and transgender people
1748 Market St, Suite 201
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 565-7667 

San Francisco City Clinic
356 7th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 487-5500

San Francisco Free Clinic
4900 California St.
(Cross street 11th Ave.)
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 750-9894

Trauma Recovery Center / Rape Treatment Center(TRC/RTC)
San Francisco General Hospital
2727 Mariposa St. #100
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 437-3011

Women's Community Clinic
1833 Fillmore St, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 379-7800 

Law Enforcement

San Francisco Police Department
Emergency: 911
Non-Emergency: (415) 553-0123

Note: When calling 911 on a cellular phone near a highway, the call is connected to The California Highway Patrol (CHP) dispatch center. In other areas in San Francisco, the call will connect directly to SF dispatch. You can also dial directly to SF dispatch: (415) 553-8090

Legal Help

Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic(CROC)

(415) 864-1790 (office)

(415) 252-2844 (intake line)

US Department of Justice, Office of Violence against Women

US Department of Justice, Defending Childhood

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
(regional office)
50 Beale St., Suite 7200

San Francisco, CA 94105

(415) 486-5555
(877) 521-2172

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
(national office)
(800) 872-5327

Victim Services Division(SF DA’s Office)
850 Bryant St. #320
San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 553-9044

Monday-Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (call for available intake times)


Community United Against Violence(CUAV)
427 South Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 333-4357 (safety line)
(415) 777-5500 (office
Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Male Survivors

Male Survivor

Sexual Assault / Rape

Bay Area Women Against Rape(BAYWAR)
470 27th St.
Oakland, CA 94612

(510) 845-7273 (24-hour crisis line)
(510) 430-1298 (office
Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

California Coalition Against Sexual Assault(CALCASA)
1215 K. St., Suite 1850

Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 446-2520

Rape Abuse & Incest National Network(RAINN)
(800) 656-HOPE (4673)

San Francisco Women Against Rape(SFWAR)
3543 18th St. #7
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 647-7273 (24-hour hotline)
(415) 861-2024 (office)

Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Trauma Recovery Center / Rape Treatment Center(TRC/RTC)
San Francisco General Hospital
2727 Mariposa St., #100
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 437-3011


Asian Women's Shelter
Languages: multiple Asian languages spoken

(415) 751-0880 (crisis)
(877) 751-0880 (crisis)

(415) 751-7110 (office)

La Casa de las Madres
Languages: Spanish and English

(415) 503-0500 (office)

(877) 503-1850 (crisis)

(877) 923-0700 (teen line)

Riley Center and Emergency Shelter

(415) 255-0165 (crisis)

(415) 552-2943 (office)



(866) 331-9474
text "loveis" to 22522

Stalking Resource Center

Street Harassment

Cards Against Harassment

Hollaback!(San Francisco)

Stop Street Harassment(San Francisco)
(571) 449-7326

Other Support Organizations

A Call To Men

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence

Men Can Stop Rape

My Strength

Office on Women's Health