Posts Tagged ‘Research’

The 2010s: A Decade in Review

Highlights of the decade

At The Emily Program we spend a lot of time looking ahead. To hope and healing. To expanded access to care for people with eating disorders. To advanced awareness, education, and treatment. Our vision is a future of peaceful relationships with food, weight, and body, where anyone affected by an eating disorder can experience full, lifelong recovery.

As we work to heal the future, we also acknowledge the past and present. We accept where we are and where we’ve been, both as an organization and a culture at large. We pause and we reflect so that we can move forward with greater clarity, knowledge, and compassion.

To that end, we are using the start of this new decade to reflect on the previous decade in the world of eating disorders. The 2010s witnessed changes in the fields of eating disorder awareness, research, and care, as well as the culture surrounding them.

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Eating Disorders in Older Adults

Woman standing on a bridge

There are many stereotypes that feed into society’s perception of the type of people afflicted by eating disorders. If we could, those of us at The Emily Program would scream it from the rooftops: Eating disorders do not discriminate! A person’s sex, race, age, socioeconomic status, and culture don’t matter when it comes to disordered thinking about food! In this post, we focus on age and the similarities and differences of eating disorders in older adults compared to young and middle-aged adults. We will also cover the importance of seeking help, no matter a person’s life stage.

Setting the record straight on eating disorders and age

Many people think eating disorders only affect young or middle-aged adults and that beyond those years, the disorders disappear. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Eating disorders do primarily affect younger populations, and they often manifest in younger adults. According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), it is true that eating disorders appear in early adulthood: the median age of onset for bulimia and anorexia is 18, while the median age of onset for Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is 21. However, if one of those eating disorders—or any disordered eating—goes untreated early on, that simply means that those with the eating disorder will likely continue to suffer into late adulthood. In other words, if an older adult is suffering from an eating disorder, that person has been plagued with the symptoms for decades. Adding to that heartbreak, because these adults have suffered for so long, it’s less likely that they will seek help during their golden years.

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Make Peace With You – A Live Podcast with Jessie Diggins and Jana Shortal

Jana Jessie and Jillian onstage at the live podcast

We had a fantastic time at The Emily Program’s first live podcast event, Make Peace With You! Our discussion covered topics of perfectionism, social media, and eating disorder recovery.

jessie laughing at autograph table

jessie, jillian, jana

crowd at autograph table

signing

Episode description:

Make Peace with You is a special live episode of Peace Meal focused on stories of embracing individuality and practicing self-acceptance. On November 2nd, host Dr. Jillian Lampert talked with Olympian Jessie Diggins and journalist Jana Shortal about how they learned to come to terms with body image issues and other challenges. 

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Episode 18: The Minnesota Starvation Experiment

Ancel Keys

Episode description:

Ancel Keys’ Minnesota Starvation Experiment was a 1944-1945 study where 36 men voluntarily starved themselves to aid researchers in discovering ways to help those affected by the war recover from starvation. While the study shed light on starvation recovery, it also became an important study in the eating disorder field. Susan Swigart, an Emily Program psychiatrist, explains why.

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Can how we were Raised Contribute to Developing an Eating Disorder?

Parents holding toddler's hand

Eating disorders are complex and serious illnesses that can cause serious harm to the individual afflicted. Characterized by a disturbance in an individual’s self-perception and food behaviors, eating disorders are biologically-based brain illnesses that are affected by environmental, cultural, and psychological factors. A key aspect of eating disorders is their complexity and the questions surrounding them—what caused my eating disorder? Will I get better? Do other people experience this?

Environmental Factors

There are certain environmental factors that may contribute to the development of an eating disorder including diet culture, the media, and peer judgment. Diet culture is a series of beliefs that idolize thinness and equate it to health and wellbeing. Diet culture manifests in less obvious ways, too, and can be seen in the way that menus portray “healthy” options as superior or how the typical chair size is made for someone thin. These diet culture consequences can plant the idea, at a young age, that thinner is “normal” and something to strive for, which can lead to disordered eating later in life.

The media is largely problematic in its portrayal of the idea that thin is superior. From the majority of celebrities and actors being thin to weight-centric TV shows like “Biggest Loser,” it’s no surprise that society gets the message that skinny is better. This media messaging infiltrates daily lives. There’s billboards of new diets, commercials promoting gym memberships to get you in beach body shape, and reality TV featuring only the thinnest of stars. When faced with this negative messaging daily, individuals can feel intense pressure to “fit in,” leading to dieting, appearance dissatisfaction, and eating disorders.

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Throw Away the Scale

Woman standing on scale

**Content warning: the beginning of this blog explains the history of scales and their association with glorified weight loss. To skip over this information, scroll to the subtopic, “Why Scales don’t Measure Actual Health.”

In American culture, scales are often a household staple. They are in bathrooms, gym locker rooms, medical offices, and more. While at times, scales can be important for medical monitoring or developmental growth assessments, they are often unnecessary to have in homes. For those with eating disorders, an easily accessible scale can fuel the disorder, lead to obsession, and spark dangerous behaviors like bingeing, purging, or restricting food intake.

The History of the Scale

While scales were invented hundreds of years ago to measure goods, the “bathroom scale” or the scale used to weigh humans wasn’t developed until the late 18th century. Scales became popularized in the 1920s when they were widely produced and served as an innovative novelty positioned on public streets. As individuals stopped paying to weigh themselves and the industry lost profits, companies began to make improvements in scale technology—ultimately creating the household scale.

Initial Uses of the Scale

The household scale became popularized in the early-mid 1900s at the same time that dieting as a means to weight loss became commercialized. This led the household scale to be used as a tracker of “health,” or so medical professionals thought at the time. This assumption then led to the glorification of thin bodies in the media, Hollywood, and magazines.

The idolization of thin bodies as healthy led individuals to pursue this new ideal. Oftentimes, the progression went like this: an individual saw the image of a thin figure on a magazine or read in the newspaper about the positive effects of dieting for weight loss, they then decided to go on a diet, in order to monitor the progress of the diet, they had to buy a scale. Once the individuals purchased the scale, they were able to weigh themselves daily to monitor the progress of their diet. These actions and this belief system contributed to disordered eating throughout the United States.

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