September 20, 2011


Public Health Lecture Presented on Eating Disorders

“Eating Disorders” was the focus of a public health lecture at Northeast Alabama Community College Wednesday, September 14 in the Health Education Building on the NACC campus. The lecture was presented by Mary Peake.

Susan Barron, Director of High School Relations and Event Planning, welcomed those in attendance. “We are so glad to have you all here today for this presentation,” she said. “This topic has been one of the most requested ones since we began doing the lecture series. There is a lot of interest in it.”

Barron introduced the speaker. “We are fortunate to have Mrs. Mary Peake with us today,” said Barron. “She is a RD, LD, and graduated from the University of Alabama in 2004 with a BS in Food and Nutrition. She received her dietetic License and Registration shortly afterward. After graduation, she started her career as a clinical dietitian at Huntsville Hospital. In 2006 she was offered a new opportunity to work for Medical Affiliated Research Center as the dietitian on staff, counseling patients in the areas of weight loss, diabetes, and heart health for specific clinical research studies. She subsequently started coordinating clinical trials in addition to providing nutritional counseling. In March, 2011, Mary was promoted to Recruitment Manager and now directs the patient outreach efforts. She continues to provide nutritional counseling for study patients as well as for private patients referred by physicians.”

Peake discussed what constitutes an eating disorder, as well as the health risks, warning signs, and treatment options. Her presentation centered on Anorexia Nervosa (restricting and binging/purging types) and Bulimia Nervosa (purging and non-purging types). She said that 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders and of that number only 10-15 percent are males. One in 200 American women have Anorexia and 2-3 American women in 100 have Bulimia. Ninety-five percent of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12-25. Fifty percent of 11- to 13-year-olds see themselves as overweight. She also discussed why people get eating disorders, which includes biological (genetic link and serotonin levels) and psychological causes (depression, anxiety, low self esteem, perfectionism, impulsive behavior, family conflicts, troubled relationships), and Societal (media, desire for thinness, and peer pressure). Risk factors for eating disorders include being female, age group of 13-25, family history, family influence, emotional issues, dieting, transitions in life, and sports/work activities. Health risks include cardiovascular, hematological, endocrine, renal, metabolic and gastric changes. Warning signs include a distorted body image, dressing in layers, social withdrawal from friends and activities, major changes in personality, bizarre eating rituals, fidgeting, amenorrhea, pale skin, dull thinning hair, eating in privacy, laxative abuse, furry skin, stomach trouble, and food obsession. Diagnosis includes treatment by a medical provider, mental health provider, and dietitian. These disorders are difficult to treat; however, 30-40 percent of patients treated fully recover.

This health lecture was provided free of charge to faculty, students, and the public.

For more information about the Health Care lecture series, contact Susan Barron at phone ext. *2248 or e-mail

Pictured after the lecture are (L-R) Lacie Kilgore and Rebecca Martin, NACC students; Susan Barron, NACC Director of Events Planning; Mary Peake, presenter; Tyler Furgerson, NACC student; and Kevin Holt, NACC Biology Instructor.