Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
November/December 2006 Volume 17, Number 6
©2006 Gürze Books
Following the theme, “It Takes a Team,” the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) meeting in Bethesda, MD, September 14-15, set attendance records and provided two days of seminars on topics ranging from eating disorders among athletes to self-injury and eating disorders and eating disorder in midlife.
Dr. Ovidio Bermudez, Chairman of the Board of Directors of NEDA, told the audience that not even the brightest minds in eating disorders research can help families and patients if they work alone. Representatives of the five major eating disorders organizations then described individual goals and activities of their organizations. Dr. Bermudez urged all the groups to come together to work “to make eating disorders a thing of the past.”
NEDA: Promoting Advocacy and Research
Dr. Bermudez said that NEDA’s mission is to improve the public’s understanding of eating disorders, to promote access to treatment, and to promote advocacy and research in the field. He added that the organization is especially concerned about those affected by eating disorders and those who are trying to care for them. One of the organization’s primary efforts has been working to promote education and awareness through media and public relations efforts, and radio public service announcements campaigns, such as that with Clear Channel Broadcasing.
He also noted that another nationwide NEDA program, National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, scheduled for February 25-March 3, 2007, will have the theme, “Be comfortable in your genes. Wear jeans that fit the REAL you.” The campaign will stress that body size and shape are strongly influenced by biological factors, including genetics, and will highlight the role of genetics in the development of eating disorders.The organization’s Information and Referral Hotline (800-931-2237) receives more than 1,500 calls per month, he said.
Academy for Eating Disorders: Promoting Excellence in Treatment and Research
Dr. Kelly Klump, associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University and president-elect of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED), said the AED is a professional organization with more than 1,400 members worldwide. It is also a transdisciplinary organization, she said, and includes all disciplines who are working to treat, prevent, and research eating disorders.
“Our mission is to promote excellence in treatment, prevention and research of eating disorders,” she said, and told the audience that such efforts are needed more than ever due to decreased federal funding for research and prevention of eating disorders. Dr. Klump noted that collaboration with other organizations has been essential to the organization’s success, and pointed to AED’s annual conference and training day, which provides state-of-the-art information on research and treatment, and collaboration with other organizations such as NEDA.
International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals: An Educational Focus
Rick Bishop, MD, CEO, president of iaedp, noted that just as Julius Caesar wrote that Rome had defeated Gaul by dividing and conquering, “We have been divided and conquered in the eating disorders field. Coming together is necessary for us to have an impact,” he said. Dr. Bishop lamented that research funding for eating disorders has been disproportionately lower than for other fields, such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. The iaedp mission, he said, has been primarily to educate mental health professionals and dietitians about eating disorders; in addition, he said, for many years the organization has been involved in the certification of professionals who treat patients with eating disorders. “Too many people still undertake treatment of eating disorders without having enough expertise in the area,” Dr. Bishop said. “People may not realize that lots of dedicated people are treating eating disorders—some are master’s level therapists who are not making much money but are dedicated to treating eating disorders, he said.
Eating Disorders Coalition: Making Washington More Aware of Eating Disorders
Samuel Menaged, JD, President of the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action and founder and President of Renfrew Center and Renfrew Foundation, said he sees the Eating Disorders Coalition, the newest of the eating disorders organizations, as a natural outgrowth of the other four organizations. The mission of the Eating Disorders Coalition is to make policymakers in Washington more aware of the epidemic proportions of eating disorders, their life-threatening nature, and the lack of education in public and private schools and the need for research in the eating disorders, he said.
Genetics Research Consortium
Dr. Walter Kaye, professor of psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute, and Director of the Eating Disorders Clinic at the University of Pittsburg, told the audience that genes actually make a major contribution to eating disorders, but researchers don’t yet understand the vulnerability to eating disorders. There has been a rich collaboration of many people in the eating disorders field, collecting samples and studies that began more than 10 years ago, he added.
Dr. Kaye noted that genotyping is getting less expensive and new results on genotypes will be available over the next few months. The studies are very complicated and millions of dollars are needed to continue the collaborative studies. He added that the group is finishing a study for the National Institutes of Mental Health, which involves collecting data from 400 families with two or more family members with anorexia nervosa. The group still needs about 50 families for the study. (For more information, see www.pitt.edu).