Symposium Overview

The symposium will feature high profile keynotes, lightning talks on eating disorders prevention topics, and innovative field demonstrations from researchers and practitioners from across sectors and disciplines

All audiences welcome

Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other specified feeding and eating disorders, and the broader constellation of disordered eating and weight and shape control behaviors and symptoms represent major threats to health and quality of life and present substantial burdens on individuals, families, healthcare systems, and society. They affect people of all genders, race/ethnicities, weight statuses, socioeconomic positions, ages, sexual orientations, and geosocial locations. Persistent disparities have been observed in which members of marginalized communities may be more often affected by these conditions, and yet profound disparities have also been observed in diagnosis and access to treatment in which these same communities may be least likely to benefit from early detection and appropriate treatment. Approximately 30 million Americans will be diagnosed with an eating disorder in their lifetime and many millions more with related subclinical conditions associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, eating disorders have among the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder in the United States. Given the prevalence, disparities, and severity of eating disorders and their subclinical variants, there is a compelling need for public health approaches to primary and secondary prevention of these conditions.

While decades of eating disorders preventive intervention research have been conducted, there are major gaps in the field in a range of domains that could benefit from rigorous attention from scientists working in transdisciplinary and multisectoral teams. One, the vast majority of research on eating disorders preventive interventions to date has been concentrated in the efficacy stage, with few studies moving to the effectiveness stage, and fewer still focused on the dissemination/sustainability stages of intervention research. Two, few studies have examined macro-environmental factors – including policy, built environment, industry and commercial markets, or other aspects of the macro-environment (mass/social media is one exception, having received modest research attention) — that may influence eating disorders risk or be leverage points for eating disorders prevention. Three, few studies have focused on T3 (i.e., from clinical guidelines to routine practice in clinical and community settings) and T4 (i.e., large-scale public health impact through preventive health services, multisectoral systems research, policy initiatives and evaluation) domains of the research translation schema. Four, there is a dearth of economic and decision sciences research into the costs of eating disorders and their subclinical variants and the potential savings that primary and secondary prevention of eating disorders might offer. As we chart a course to address these gaps in the research literature, there is concurrently a need for research that can tease apart the impact of intersectionality and consider how experiences of communities with multiple stigmatized identities or marginalized geosocial locations can inform eating disorders prevention research aims, study design, and data interpretation.

Reimagining the Frontier of Public Health Approaches to Eating Disorders Prevention: Transdisciplinary, Translational, Transformative brings researchers from across the disciplines together with clinicians, educators, community advocates, and policymakers and thought leaders from both government and corporate sectors to discuss this critical topic. The program will enhance the dissemination of new information, foster new collaborations, and spark the development of innovative, evidence-based preventive interventions and policies to reduce the harm and suffering caused by eating disorders and improve the health and well-being of all communities.