Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Heidemann, Gretchen


Eating disorders are no longer an invisible phenomenon. Eating disorders are caused by a multitude of factors which include a combination of biological, environmental abnormalities, and/or psychological, such as: nutritional deficiencies, sexual abuse, poor self-esteem, trauma, and/or social pressure (Strother et al., 2012). These food related issues can cause embarrassment and pain, along with severely jeopardizing one’s health if not recognized and treated (Strother et al., 2012). As a result of the complexities of eating disorders, young adults are annihilated with managing life impediments rather than focusing on academic achievement. A qualitative post positivist study will be conducted by interviewing self-identified adults within the researcher’s personal and social circles who live in Southern California, are eighteen and older, and have suffered from an eating disorder in the past. This paradigm is most suitable for this study because the problem focus is best researched through the perspective of the people. The research findings showed the need for early interventions to better manage the symptomology of eating disorders so that continued education is pursued. The following themes and subthemes emerged from the data collected: feelings of unworthiness, powerlessness, and isolation; inability to concentrate; daily thoughts consumed by weight, image, and food; interventions and treatment which assisted to regain control of life and/or aid in self-discovery; and prioritization of eating disorders over other aspects of life. The research findings can bring awareness and understanding to educators, social workers, and school counselors with regard to the consequences that eating disorders may have on academic achievement. As a result of this increase awareness, teachers and instructors will be able to practice a proactive role in which they could seek and provide early interventions, as well as exhibit empathy when interacting with a young adult with an eating disorder.