It’s a problem which many people don’t want to talk about with each other, or confront in themselves; but eating disorders are becoming more prevalent, and Marion County is one of the top ten counties in the United States where various types of eating disorders can be found.

That’s according to Tiffany Van Zante from the Eating Disorders Coalition of Iowa; speaking before the Rotary Club of Knoxville on Wednesday, she said her own personal experience with an eating disorder is an example of how people may appear healthy but are secretly battling this problem…or perhaps not realizing there is a problem, until it begins to affect their quality of life.

Van Zante tells KNIA/KRLS News this problem is no longer strictly for women; growing numbers of men are developing eating disorders, and she believes within the next decade the number of men and women affected will be roughly equal.

“And it’s kind of a stereotype in our culture as far as eating disorders, that they don’t affect men. And I think as we’re seeing more men getting involved with different sports and whatnot they’re having to drop weight, having to gain weight,” Van Zante says.

“They may already have a predisposition for an eating disorder, and when they’re dropping weight and gaining weight in the middle of their growing years, it’s causing something to go awry and we’re seeing a lot more eating disorders in the male community.”

Getting treatment is especially difficult in our area; Van Zante says the eating disorders clinic at the University of Iowa is the only one in the state, and many insurers won’t cover any private or out-of-state treatment centers. Plus, the disclosure of the problem to an insurer may itself cause a patient to lose or pay more for coverage.