CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Student journalist Paeton Outman has uncovered a serious issue among her peers: Eating Disorders. Her in-depth piece for the student newspaper at Cape Central reveals all about eating disorders and helped to uncover the overwhelming number of teens who deal with them.
"Because it's so prevalent in our high school, why haven't we ever talked about it?" Outman said.
She said this is an issue which even staff was unaware of.
"I started asking some of the principals and the counselors and they said 'We don't really have anybody here, less than one percent of our students struggle with eating disorders,'" Outman said.
However, out of 100 responses to a school-wide survey, Outman found 21 teens who say they struggle with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and other unhealthy relationships with food.
"[There were] a lot of really heart-wrenching things and it really gave the real aspect to 'What does someone who's going through this experience?' 'What are they thinking?' 'Why do they do it?' 'What are they hoping to achieve?' and 'Why are they never completely cured of it?'" journalism teacher Pat Kuper said.
Kuper said Outman went above and beyond to prompt better resources for students who deal with eating disorders.
"Because of the article, they're talking about getting some sort of support group," Kuper said.
Outman said she thinks of journalism as her platform for change.
"People are resilient. With the right support system, you can lead a healthier lifestyle and overcome it," Outman said as she read her favorite quote from one of her principals.
Now, change is here and it's helping students who thought they were alone in finding help.
"No matter who you are, if you have a voice, which we all do, and you have a passion for something, you need to take the courage and the initiate to step up and speak out about it," Outman said.
Outman said teachers are now talking about what signs to look out for so they can recognize students who might struggle with eating disorders.
Warning signs of a possible eating disorder (source: www.med.umich.edu)
- Eating tiny portions or refusing to eat
- Intense fear of being fat
- Distorted body image
- Strenuous exercising (for more than an hour)
- Hoarding and hiding food
- Eating in secret
- Disappearing after eating—often to the bathroom
- Large changes in weight, both up and down
- Social withdrawal
- Hiding weight loss by wearing bulky clothes
- Little concern over extreme weight loss
- Stomach cramps
- Menstrual irregularities—missing periods
- Feeling cold all the time
- Sleep problems
- Cuts and calluses across the top of finger joints (from sticking finger down throat to cause vomiting)
- Dry skin
- Puffy face
- Fine hair on body
- Thinning of hair on head, dry and brittle hair
- Cavities, or discoloration of teeth, from vomiting
- Muscle weakness
- Yellow skin
- Cold, mottled hands and feet or swelling of feet