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BOOK REVIEW: The Prevention of Eating Disorders

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
March/April 1999 Volume 10, Number 2
©1999 Gürze Books

(edited by Walter Vandereycken and Greta Noordenbos. London: The Athelone Press, 1998. 232 pp. A volume in Studies in Eating Disorders: An International Series).

Professor Vandereycken has initiated a new series of edited volumes on eating disorders, two volumes of which have now been published. The one being reviewed in this issue is on prevention, and a second volume on treating eating disorders will be reviewed in a forthcoming edition. If these volumes are representative of what's to follow, we can expect to see other excellent books in the future. The authors and editorial board are truly international in representation.

For this volume on prevention, Drs. Vandereycken and Noordenbos have engaged an outstanding group of authors, all established experts on various aspects of epidemiology, media and eating disorders, screening programs, primary and secondary prevention, school-based programs, and eating disorders in primary care practice. To list all the contributors would constitute name-dropping, since so many well-known researchers and practitioners are participants. However, among the contributors are Linda Smolak, Michael Levine and Ruth Striegel-Moore, who themselves edited an outstanding book on the developmental psychopathology of eating disorders, published in 1996. Although the current volume covers some of the same ground as that reviewed by Smolak et al, this book also includes a number of excellent new topics in depth, certainly making this volume a "must" addition to the collection of all those interested and working in areas of prevention, early detection and early intervention. For example, Catherine Shisslak and colleagues describe an elaborate McKnight Foundation-funded, four-phase, 10-year multi-site prospective study of risk and protective factors among 4th to 12th graders. Two phases are underway, and two more are scheduled to begin in the next few years.

Detailed chapters describe the specifics of school based prevention programs in Norway, England, Canada, and in an elementary school in the U.S. Having four program descriptions from different countries presented side by side permits the reader faced with designing programs locally to contrast and compare, and to pick and choose those elements that seem most applicable. In a superb chapter by Casper Shoemaker, screening for eating disorders is reviewed from a public health perspective. The clinical conditions, screening instruments and available treatments are scrutinized through the prism of the World Health Organization's 10 principles for the screening of disease. As for judging the utility of screening by these criteria, the jury is still out.

— J.Y.


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