University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456,

February 8, 2000 Contact: Carol Mattar (312) 996-1583,
  Amanda Mazur (312) 996-7681,


People who are concerned that they focus too much on food, eating and weight are invited to take part in a free, anonymous eating disorders screening at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Feb. 15 and 18, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will be in Room 213 of the Chicago Illini Union, 828 S. Wolcott Ave.

Adults and teenagers taking part in the screening may complete a written questionnaire, hear an educational presentation on eating disorders and meet individually with psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. If necessary, the health care professionals will provide referrals to treatment and support services. People concerned about a family member who may have an eating disorder also are invited to attend.

The screenings are being held during Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Feb. 14 to 18, and are part of the National Eating Disorders Screening Program organized by the National Mental Illness Screening Project.

Ellen Astrachan-Fletcher, a clinical psychologist and director of the Eating Disorders Clinic in UIC's Department of Psychiatry, said the biggest problem of people struggling with eating disorders is their ambivalence about getting treatment. "Often the disorder feels right to them and it's scary to think about doing something that would lead to giving it up."

Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, according to Astrachan-Fletcher. Anorexia involves an intense fear of gaining weight and self-starvation. Bulimia is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by purging, dissatisfaction with body shape and size and fear of gaining weight. People with binge eating disorder eat a large amount of food at one sitting while feeling out of control; they do not purge their body of the food.

All eating disorders can result in serious physical health problems, such as cardiac abnormalities, osteoporosis, and digestive and intestinal problems. The psychological characteristics vary, but generally involve poor self-esteem, isolation from family and friends and significant disturbances in the way the person sees his or her body.

The Eating Disorders Clinic at UIC offers a variety of services, starting with an individual assessment and including individual, group and family therapy; medications if needed; and referrals to nutritionists, surgeons and dentists who specialize in treating the effects of bulimia. Treatment for eating disorders usually is covered by insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, according to Astrachan-Fletcher.

To make an appointment at the Eating Disorders Clinic, or for more information, call (312) 996-0087.

Directions and other information about the screening program Feb. 15 and 18 are available at (312) 413-4291.

With 25,000 students, the University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest and most diverse university in the Chicago area. UIC is home to the largest medical school in the United States and is one of only 88 national Research I universities. Located just west of Chicago's Loop, UIC is a vital part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of the area.


Copyright © 1999 by B&P Consulting, Inc. and University of Illinois at Chicago. All rights reserved.
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