Science lecture series brings Dr. Maryann Shafer, M.D. to Saddleback to discuss disordered eating

Debby Vail, R.N., a representative of the Saddleback College student health center, promotes the availability of counseling and health services at Saddleback. (H. Margaret Slye)

H. Margaret Slye

Dr. Maryann Shafer, M.D. visited Saddleback College on Mar. 8 to give a lecture on eating disorders, called “Disordered Eating: the Hidden Epidemic Among Children, Adolescents and Young Adults.” 

The lecture was part of the fourth-annual science lecture series put on by the mathematics, science and engineering division at Saddleback College. According to the division’s website, the series is intended to give students a chance to “meet renowned scientists and learn about their area of expertise.” Shafer specialized in adolescent and young adult medicine at University of California San Francisco, from where she just retired. 

“It was an interesting lecture,” Kaleen Berry, 21, psychology said. “I liked what they talked about. They didn’t touch too much on Anorexia, which I was looking more forward to hearing about, and I liked that they talked a little bit about what you can eat during the day [and] in the morning.”

The lecture was geared towards students of science and those who have been attending other lectures in the series. 

In her lecture, Shafer illustrated the symptoms and risk factors disordered eating. In her lecture, she covered Bulima Nervosa, Anorexia Nervosa, Eating Disorders not Otherwise Specified.

According to Shafer, two-thirds of college women have ED-NOS or eating disorders that do not fit into the category of Bulimia or Anorexia. She also warned not to forget about men with eating disorders. 

“Men present differently than women” Shafer said. 

Shafer also mentioned that men came to the clinic later and sicker, a phenomenon she attributes to the stigma of eating disorders being a “female problem.” 

“That’s the saddest thing to me about eating disorders,” Shafer said. “It really just takes over these young people’s minds.”

She went on to cite media influence on body image, the diminished presence of cooking classes in schools and the snack food industry, as having an impact on the prevalence of eating disorders.

50 to 70 percent of people with eating disorders can be cured with comprehensive treatment and a coordinated plan, according to Shafer. She notes that it takes 5 to 7 years to fully recover. 

Debby Vail, R.N., a provider at the Saddleback College health center, was invited on stage at one point in the lecture to promote the resources Saddleback offers in terms of health care and counseling, including crises involving eating disorders. 

“We’ve seen it all, we take care of it all,” Vail said. 

The lecture ended with student questions in an open forum format, and Shafer invited students to approach her with their questions  after the lecture as well. 


For more information on the student health center and to make an appointment:


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For more information on Dr. Mary-Ann Shafer, M.D.:

Dr. Maryann Shafer, M.D. and Debby Vail, R.N. contribute to a lecture on disordered eating. (H. Margaret Slye)