Preventing Eating Disorders: A Handbook of Interventions and Special Challenges

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
March/April 2000 Volume 11, Number 2
©2000 Gürze Books

(Edited by Niva Piran, PhD, Michael P. Levine, PhD, and Catherine Steiner-Adair, EdD. Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Mazel [Taylor and Frances Group], 1999; 347 pp; $59.95)

This book originally germinated through a special 1996 issue of the journal Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention focusing on prevention. The project leading to this book grew to incorporate and include much of the contemporary field of prevention. It came to provide “snapshots” of and to critically review contemporary programs that show promise, to share curricula and program ideas, and to portray the richness of varied primary and secondary prevention efforts.

Inspired in part by the mission of EDAP (Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention) to foster and promulgate prevention activities related to eating disorders, a substantial number of talented social scientists have given thought, form, and, increasingly, substance to the considerable challenges posed by such agendas. The editors have asked a large group of these people to tell us what they’ve been up to.

The 20 chapters divided into four major sections (addressing societal institutions and values; programs for elementary and middle schools; high schools and colleges; and the special challenges of high-risk populations and secondary prevention) cover much, but not all, that is going on. Several programs are described in enough detail so that school administrators might copy them easily, and a few chapters suggest clear guidelines for what the authors believe constitute good preventive practices (e.g., “10 things coaches can do to help prevent eating disorders in their athletes”). However, outcome and evaluation data are minimal for most programs, and unconvincing for some. We will have to wait for future snapshots to indicate which of these many efforts really pay off.

These chapters are very worth reading and thinking about by educators, coaches and public health personnel. Those particularly interested in this field should supplement this primarily North American experience with a more international and critically balanced book recently reviewed in EDR (The Prevention of Eating Disorders, edited by W. Vandereycken and G. Noordenbos, Athelone Press, 1999).

— J.Y.

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