Last May, Naval Academy officials worried that eating disorders were widespread among women in the brigade of midshipmen. Yesterday, they said that only a few midshipmen have eating disorders, although some have poor eating habits that could lead to anorexia or bulimia.
A survey taken in May found that about 11 percent of the women and 3.5 percent of the men have "disordered eating behaviors," which include severe dieting, fasting and becoming a vegetarian, said Capt. Tom Jurkowsky, an academy spokesman.
Academy officials discussed the results of the survey given anonymously to 2,700 men and 400 women, with the academy's governing group, the Board of Visitors. The survey, developed by a clinical psychologist, was given to all four classes. It did not test specifically for anorexia or bulimia .
Capt. Randy Bogle, commandant of midshipmen, said eating disorders are an underground problem at the academy. Midshipmen may not report them, fearing automatic dismissal from the academy.
"The bottom line is to get this out in the open and treat it," said Adm. Charles R. Larson, academy superintendent. "Get them treated and go ahead and commission them instead of them thinking that they are automatically out."
Captain Bogle said he and a study group will begin to develop prevention strategies and hire a staff female psychologist.
Officials began to suspect that eating disorders were a problem when three women with eating disorders resigned last year because they had to be hospitalized.
In other business, Capt. Tom Butler, head of the Special Committee for Women's Issues, said the group is looking intoimproving the fit of women's uniforms. The biggest problem is that trousers are cut too narrow, he said.
"Some of these uniforms are from the 1940s era, and others are slacks and jackets that just don't work" said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a member of the Board of Visitors. "Let's get some women designers working on this. It doesn't have to be Gucci, but lets come up with something acceptable."