We provide trainees with research opportunities that help them develop content expertise in prevention of eating disorders and dangerous weight and shape control behaviors and the methodological expertise needed to conduct rigorous scientific research. Trainees are linked with opportunities to take part in research projects, provided with funding so they can devote the time needed to carry out the projects, and mentored by experts in the field.
Economic and International Perspectives on Eating Disorders Screening
Through our cost-effectiveness evaluation of school-based screening for eating disorders and with the expert guidance of STRIPED Collaborating Mentor Davene Wright, PhD, HSPH master’s degree students Yushan Jiang and Hyungi LeAnn Noh are learning volumes about these essential public health methods as applied to eating disorders. Dr. Wright, a 2012 PhD graduate in health policy from Harvard University and now an Assistant Professor at University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, is an expert in cost-effectiveness and decision analysis research. She joined forces with us to carry out what may be the first-ever U.S. cost-effectiveness study of eating disorders screening.
In a second screening project, physician Yongjoo Kim and child psychiatrist Matías Irarrázaval worked with STRIPED director Bryn Austin and co-director Kendrin Sonneville on their HSPH MPH program practicum to craft strategic plans for new nationwide eating disorders screening and prevention programs for South Korean and Chilean adolescents. Their long-term goal is to take their strategic plans back to the federal health ministries in their home countries to propose expansion of their nations’ eating disorders screening and prevention initiatives.
A Critical Eye on the Weight-Loss and Beauty Industries
In several new projects this year, STRIPED trainees and faculty are turning a critical eye on the beauty industry — an industry that is as ubiquitous and pernicious as it is complex and challenging to study. As part of our multidisciplinary team including the unlikely mix of a geographer, an economist, a statistician, and a nutritionist, HSPH doctoral student Allegra Gordon along with STRIPED staffer Grace Kennedy helped to pilot new methods to map the onslaught of beauty industry purveyors in young people’s environments. In a parallel project, STRIPED’s newest faculty, Jerel Calzo, PhD, is working closely with Austin and Sonneville to begin a national study of male body image and the masculinization of the cosmetic surgery and procedures industry.
STRIPED Visiting Scholar Christina Roberto, PhD, is mentoring HSPH master’s student Brigitte Granger and Harvard College undergraduate Kelly Bauer in a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded investigation of deceptive marketing practices used by the weight-loss industry. Kelly and Brigitte are gaining hands-on research experience documenting the scope of these misleading marketing strategies and are also working to design follow-up studies that will examine how weight-loss industry marketing practices negatively influence young people and — most importantly — what we can do to change these harmful marketing practices.
As part of one of our Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded projects, Jennifer Pomeranz, JD, MPH, who is STRIPED Affiliated Faculty in Health Law and Director of Legal Initiatives for the Rudd Center on Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, is mentoring standout Harvard Law School student Katherine Cohen to investigate promising legal avenues to protect youth and other vulnerable groups from abuses and exploitation by the beauty industry. Katherine is gaining invaluable experience that she’ll be able to use in her law career after graduation to help craft viable legal strategies to protect those most vulnerable in our society’s unrelenting pursuit of beauty.
Fat Talk Free Week Pilot Evaluation Study
Our team, led by STRIPED trainees Bernice Raveche Garnett, ScD, (principal investigator) and Rob Buelow, MS (study coordinator), conducted the first-ever evaluation of the innovative Fat Talk Free Week social marketing campaign on college campuses.
Abuse of Over-the-Counter Products for Weight Control: A Pilot Study
Our team is conducting a two-pronged investigation of abuse of products such as laxatives and diet pills through a legal study led by public health law expert Jennifer Pomeranz, JD, MPH, legal director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, and a medical claims study led by health policy expert Robert Penfold, PhD, of the Seattle-based Group Health Research Institute, and STRIPED Expert Advisory Panel member Jess Haines, PhD. Recent trainees Meredith Chace, Jenna Kruger, MPH, and Lisa Taylor, JD, have all been instrumental on this research project.
Healthy Choices Study: Eating Disorders Prevention in Adolescents
STRIPED director Dr. Bryn Austin and HSPH doctoral graduate Monica Wang, ScD, are carrying out a series of analyses along with Health Choices Study principal investigator Karen Peterson, ScD, of University of Michigan School of Public Health, and the Healthy Choices Study team to examine potential protective influences in the lives of early adolescent girls and boys and the long-term effects of the Healthy Choices program on disordered weight control behaviors in middle schools across Massachusetts.