The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Eating disorder proven to be deadly

The death rate of anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than that of all other causes of death in females from ages 15 to 24.

Spreading the Word About Disordered Eating (S.W.A.D.E.) was started in hopes of improving this statistic and raising awareness about eating disorders around the SMU campus.

“It seems from observation that a substantial percentage of SMU students struggle from disordered eating. I would compare it to Vanderbilt, whose statistics show that one in four of their female students struggle from eating disorders,” said Elizabeth Carlock, president of SMU S.W.A.D.E.

Carlock served as president of S.W.A.D.E at Highland Park High School, and, in her senior, year began to spread it to other high schools in the Dallas metroplex. Now, she believes it is necessary to start the program at SMU.

S.W.A.D.E. is in the process of beginning but has not officially held any events. Carlock intends to draw student interest and hold a meeting in the next few weeks. She believes once the program kicks off it will be a way for students to help each other learn to appreciate their bodies and educate other students about eating.

S.W.A.D.E. is the youth outreach program of The Elisa Project, which aims for students to support other students and promote a healthy body image. The Elisa Ruth McCall endowment was established at SMU in 1997. Like many college students, Elisa McCall struggled with an eating disorder.

Throughout her battle, McCall kept a journal about her experience, which would eventually come to touch many lives in the community. She died at the age of 20, but her story lives on and will continue to make an impact on the students at SMU and the community.

In 1999, this endowment grew into a much larger project, The Elisa Project, which aimed to not only help students at SMU, but also to reach out to the entire community. The Elisa Project has hopes of eventually spreading nationally.

While the project has penetrated a large part of the Dallas community, many involved wished to see increased student involvement on the SMU campus. Therefore, Spreading the Word About Disordered Eating was started.

The Elisa Project realized the urgent need on SMU’s campus for a program that promotes awareness about eating disorders, which are not even discussed in depth in wellness classes.

“Right now S.W.A.D.E. curriculum is in development, transitioning from a high school to a college curriculum, and once it gains momentum at SMU, students at other colleges have expressed interest in implementing the same program,” said Carlock.

Statistics show that one in five women deal with disordered eating. One out of every 100 young women between the ages of 10 and 20 are starving themselves, sometimes to death. Because of these statistics, Dr. Elizabeth Hughes, director of The Elisa Project, is excited to see the impact that S.W.A.D.E. will have on the SMU campus.

“The Elisa Project would like S.W.A.D.E. to become an integral part of student life on SMU’s campus. Everyone knows someone that struggles with an eating disorder. Unfortunately, it is a very private disease, so it is not often discussed. We would like S.W.A.D.E. to provide the forum for students to educate one another about positive body image, media literacy, eating disorder prevention, the importance of treatment and advocacy efforts,” said Hughes.

Many people dealing with eating disorders are very private about the disease and are frightened to seek help.

“Students do not take full advantage of the counseling at SMU, because they do not or cannot recognize there is a problem,” said Carlock.

Both The Elisa Project and S.W.A.D.E. work to educate people about eating disorders, to prevent the occurrences, to provide hope for the future and to help those struggling to find treatment and heal.

Lisa Calhoun, director of programming for The Elisa Project, said, “The most gratifying aspect of working for The Elisa Project is being able to help people get treatment for their loved ones. Too many times, a parent will discover that their child has an eating disorder and not know how to help. They will call The Elisa Project with very little knowledge about the disease or know how to start the treatment process. After talking with individuals we find they usually feel much better because they have a plan.”

The Elisa Project helps families develop treatment plans, while S.W.A.D.E. is a peer-to-peer program that aims to educate students about the problem. The hope is that students can encourage and counsel each other, and in turn begin to eliminate the number of students affected.

These programs are not only intended for people who struggle with eating disorders but also to promote mental and physical health and wellness. There are volunteer opportunities, as well as presentations available for people who simply want to learn about eating disorders and positive body image. SMU should welcome S.W.A.D.E. as a resource to the community, a wonderful way to get involved on campus, as well as a chance to bring awareness to our campus about an extremely deadly and prevalent disease.

More to Discover