Archive for May, 2011
Contrary to popular belief, eating disorders affect both males and females. While it is true that women are more commonly affected by eating disorders, more than a million men and boys battle the illnesses every day. Specifically, it was previously estimated that 8 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder and that 10% are men. However, a more recent Harvard study suggests that out of 3,000 people with an eating disorder 25% are men. Although a great deal is written about women with eating disorders both in the scientific literature and in the lay press, males with eating disorders receive markedly less attention. Times may be changing. Earlier this month Vic Avon, a National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Navigator from New Jersey, was interviewed about his struggle with anorexia. Vic was also interviewed last year by the National Association for Males with Eating Disorders (http://www.namedinc.org/newsdetails.asp?id=61) about his book My Monster Within: My Story. In the book he discusses the development of his eating disorder and his struggle toward recovery. His story is similar to those described by women. Vic received successful treatment in 2008 and is now a NEDA Navigator, providing help and guidance to individuals struggling with eating disorders or individuals worried about someone in order to help them connect with treatment options and resources.
Why the sudden increased interest in men with eating disorders? Right now, we have greater awareness about eating disorders in general along with an ever increasing awareness that males are affected too. The media likely also play a role both in increasing awareness and but also increasing risk. Similar to the cultural pressure placed on girls to meet an ideal body standard, the media continue to promote a lean, muscular physique as ideal for men. Men’s magazines have articles and advertisements promoting body-building and dieting. This pressure is thought to be linked to what some have termed “muscle dysmorphia” which is characterized by the belief that one’s body is too small or underdeveloped. Consequently, at risk men may work-out rigorously for hours each day and take dangerous supplements in order to get bigger. Male celebrities are also starting to come forward about their struggles. For example, actors Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton have spoken about their battle with anorexia and singer Elton John and British politician John Prescott have opened up about their struggles with bulimia.
Despite this increased awareness and interest, a lot is still unknown especially in regard to treatment options. Many treatment programs and support groups are designed for, aimed at, and primarily attended by women. We have not yet investigated how or whether our treatments need to be adapted for males as research examining treatment approaches for eating disorders tends to focus exclusively on women. Additionally, the topics of discussion in treatment may focus on women’s issues, and some men may not find this to be the best “fit” for their needs, although others find the perspective of both sexes to be valuable. Finally, with all of the stigma attached to eating disorders and the misconception that they are a “female problem,” men may be hesitant to seek treatment. However, there is promise as many of the underlying psychological factors that increase risk for an eating disorder are the same for both men and women including low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, trauma, and difficulties coping with emotions. Our program at UNC offers services to men and boys with eating disorders in our outpatient, partial hospitalization, and inpatient programs. Some males prefer programs that are geared entirely to men such as that at The Eating Disorder Center at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin under the direction of Dr. Theodore Weltzin. Where ever you seek treatment, the important piece of information is that there is hope – recovery for males with eating disorders is possible.
The UNC Eating Disorders Program would like to congratulate Reverend Peter Maffly-Kipp on receiving the national Julius W. Varwig Award. This award is presented annually to one United Church of Christ Professional Chaplain or Counselor “who has demonstrated dedication and commitment to serve persons … in the spirit exemplified by the first full-time Protestant chaplain in the United State, Rev. Julius W. Varwig.” Rev. Bill Johnson presented this award to Peter in a ceremony in the John M. Reeves All Faiths Chapel in Memorial Hospital Thursday morning. The number of former patients in the audience, as well as clergy, physicians, and nursing staff from various departments in the hospital, was testimony to how many lives Peter has touched. As one of Peter’s colleagues noted in the ceremony, everyone who knows Peter was “pleasantly surprised and yet not at all surprised” to find out that he was receiving this prestigious award.
Peter was selected for the 2011 Varwig Award on the basis of his exemplary work in ministry at UNC Hospitals. Peter came to UNC Hospitals in 1990 and began his chaplaincy serving persons living with HIV. In 2004, Peter joined the Eating Disorders Program. He leads groups focusing on spiritual themes on the inpatient unit and in the partial hospitalization program and is available for individual counseling as requested. “When we opened our program in 2003, many patients spoke of the importance of spirituality in their recovery. Peter has helped add this dimension to our treatment and has ensured that there is always space for spirituality – regardless of its form – in the recovery process,” notes Dr. Cynthia Bulik, the Director of the Eating Disorders Program. Over the years, Peter has become an integral part of our interdisciplinary team. Peter brings an inspiring energy and enthusiasm to his chaplaincy and clinical work. Patients often describe how much they trust Peter and his group is often one of the most highly anticipated of the week.
The UNC Eating Disorders Program is fortunate to have Peter as part of our team and we congratulate him on this national recognition.
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged eating disorder recovery, Goodbye Ed Hello Me: Recover from your Eating Disorder and Fall in Love with Life, Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too, Restoring Our Bodies Reclaiming Our Lives on May 10, 2011 |
Jenni Schaefer, best-selling author of Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too (McGraw-Hill) and Goodbye Ed, Hello Me: Recover from Your Eating Disorder and Fall in Love with Life (released in September 2009 by McGraw-Hill), has given a voice and face to eating disorder recovery. Jenni’s books are highly valued by individuals with eating disorders as well as their friends and families.
Recently, Jenni released her long-awaited CD, phoenix, Tennessee. This alternative country/pop CD, produced by Jenni and hit songwriters from Nashville, includes 7 songs about Jenni’s healing journey towards recovery and ultimately liberation from her eating disorder. The CD includes the popular singles “Life Without Ed” (from Life Without Ed) and “It’s Okay to be Happy” (from Goodbye Ed, Hello Me). At the 2011 International Conference on Eating Disorders last week in Miami, Florida Jenni gave a live performance of “It’s Okay to be Happy” during the fundraising gala in celebration of Amiee Liu’s new book Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives. I was fortunate to attend this heartfelt performance, which united survivors, researchers, and clinicians in the goal of raising funds for the Academy for Eating Disorders scholarship program. The energy in the room was palpable as the lights went down and Jenni began to sing.
Jenni’s music has touched the hearts and souls of countless women and men on their journey towards recovery. I whole heartedly recommend this motivational and inspirational album to individuals at all stages of recovery as well as to treatment professionals. You can pick up your own copy of this CD at http://www.jennischaefer.com/hello-store.htm.
Pick it up and bring some happy into your life!
Also, check out Jenni’s blog at http://www.eatingdisordersblogs.com/recovery/
CD Song list:
1 I Miss Me
2 I Didn’t Even Have to Pray
3 She Blames Herself
4 Life Without Ed
5 Dancin’ in the Light
6 It’s Okay to be Happy
7 Forever For Awhile
~Sara Trace, PhD
The 2011 International Conference on Eating Disorders was held in Miami, Florida last week, April 28-30. Close to twenty members of the clinical and research teams of UNC’s Eating Disorder Program joined hundreds of other professionals and advocates from around the globe engaged in research, treatment and prevention of eating disorders.
This year’s conference theme, The Complexity of Eating Disorders: Many Perspectives, One Shared Goal was exemplified in the keynote address by Dr. Timothy Walsh from Columbia University. His talk entitled The Diagnosis of Eating Disorders: The Good, the Bad, and the DSM-5 discussed proposed changes for the future in the way we classify eating disorders, in particular trying to decrease the number of individuals who are given a diagnosis of ‘eating disorder not otherwise specified’.
Other topics discussed by conference attendees from around the world included: 1) New Treatment Research on Eating Disorders, 2) Is Food Rewarding for People with Eating Disorders? Clinical Insights from Brain Imaging Studies, 3) “Growing Up”: An Update on Adolescent Eating and Weight Disorders, and 4) Public Policy Approaches to Eating Disorder and Obesity Prevention: Global Perspectives. More information on specific talks within these sessions can be found at http://www.aedweb.org/Plenary_Sessions.htm.
For the first time this year, the conference included a session completely devoted to discussing recent research on pregnancy and motherhood in women with eating disorders. UNC’s own Dr. Stephanie Zerwas, Assistant Professor and Associate Research Director of the UNC Eating Disorders Program, presented findings from her recent study of maternal weight trajectories during pregnancy and the postpartum period. She found that mothers with eating disorders gained weight more quickly during pregnancy than mothers without eating disorders and that mothers with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa lost weight more quickly in the first 6 months post-partum than mothers without eating disorders. Her findings highlight the need for a better understanding of eating disorder recovery and relapse during this critical period.
Brazilian psychiatrist Dr. Andrea Pinheiro, a former post-doctoral fellow at UNC, presented two studies evaluating disordered eating behavior during pregnancy in women living inBrazil. She found that women who reported binge eating during pregnancy were at higher risk for having adverse birth outcomes than women who did not report binge eating during pregnancy; she also found that disordered eating behaviors decreased for most women during pregnancy, but resumed postpartum.
Abigail Easter from King’s College London discussed dietary patterns in the children of mothers with eating disorders, finding that these children were more likely to have a ‘health conscious’ dietary pattern compared to the general population in their sample of women and children from the UK. Another member of the UNC Eating Disorders Research team, Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman, MD/PhD trainee, presented findings from her study of maternal-child interactions in mothers with histories of eating disorders. She found that mothers with eating disorder histories displayed differences in their heart rate patterns during mealtimes and playtimes with their children compared with mothers without eating disorder histories which may indicate an increased susceptibility to stress. The inclusion of this session on pregnancy and motherhood in the program this year is promising, highlighting increased attention to this critical area as we work to develop a better understanding of the needs of women with eating disorders during this important time.
Dr. Cynthia Bulik received the Meehan-Hartley Advocacy Award from the International Academy for Eating Disorders on April 30, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The Meehan-Hartley Award recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring advocates who have made and continue to make significant contributions in advancing patient rights and access to quality care for those who suffer from eating disorders. Below is the speech given by Kitty Westin, Past-President of the Eating Disorders Coalition who presented the award to Cindy.
What a joy and privilege! This is so much fun and I am honored to present the AED 2011 Meehan-Hartley Advocacy Award to Cindy Bulik. A couple of months ago I e-mailed Cindy and asked her to send me her CV. I wanted to “get it right” when I talked about her accomplishments in the field of eating disorders. She has a very impressive resume – stunning actually! There are literally hundreds of publications, presentations, conferences and awards. Cindy is a world renowned researcher, esteemed professor and mentor. Her accomplishments and contributions to the field are incredible and have moved us forward in ways that help professionals, clients and families alike. However, I know that Cindy is most proud of her work in advocacy. She sent me this message along with her CV: “this award is not about papers published, grants received or any of that academic stuff – it’s about pouring your heart and soul into advocacy – in a deeply human way – it means more than all of those others combined.”
My fondest memories of Cindy is when we were president and vice-president of the Eating Disorders Coalition – the Washington based advocacy organization that brings eating disorder issues to our federal policy makers. Cindy was always there for me – she “had my back” whenever I got myself into trouble and we worked closely together to fight eating disorders by educating policy makers and changing public policy. She has participated in nearly all of the EDC Advocacy Training and Lobby Days and she has participated in several Congressional Briefings.
Cindy has been a tireless advocate for her colleagues, her clients and families across the globe. She has spoken out publically and encouraged the field to work together to reach the shared goal – recovery! One time she spoke the following words that impacted and empowered parents around the world: “There is no evidence to suggest that there is a parenting style that causes eating disorders. Families are our best allies in treating this illness and should not be blamed.”
Cindy, these two sentences changed everything and gave parents a voice and the confidence we needed to be part of our daughter’s and son’s treatment teams. Thank you for helping us find a voice!
Thank you Cindy for your words, your passion and your commitment. It is my great honor to present you with the AED 2011 Meehan-Hartley Advocacy Award.
In accepting the award, Dr. Bulik stated,
Advocacy gives meaning to what we do. It puts a face and a family to the numbers we crunch. It unites sufferers, families, loved ones, clinicians, and researchers toward one common goal. On those days when we all come together, we are all working together—it is not patient and clinician, or participant and researcher—it is a room brimming with advocates.
To be acknowledged for advocacy is truly the highest praise. I am deeply grateful for this honor and humbled to join the rainbow of dedicated past honorees. At the same time, participating in advocacy is sufficient reward.
Wherever you live, speak to politicians in your country on the national and local level, reach out to influential people in your community to spread awareness and build partnerships, strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on a plane or your taxi driver. These sorts of experiences will impart meaning to your work and open up new dimensions of belonging and community that are not always apparent in the lab or in the clinic.
On January 18th, 2011, the Britain’s Daily Mail announced the tragic suicide of Marie Caro, mother of internationally recognized French model Isabelle Caro who died from anorexia nervosa at age 28 on November 17th 2010.
Based on a quote from Isabel’s father, the press implied that Marie’s suicide was in response to the excessive guilt she experienced, stemming from whether she made the right decisions about her daughter’s treatment.
While we can’t say for certain whether Marie’s death was associated with guilt from her role in her daughter’s recovery, this devastating story touches on a salient issue. Parents are often unsure about what road to take in the treatment of their loved one. With so much of their time and energy devoted to caring for their child, they may not take time to process their own emotional reactions or engage in self-care. This may ultimately affect their personal health.
Parents need care too! Eating disorders are incredibly complex and just as many factors contribute to illness onset (genetic, biological, social, environmental), many factors are involved in treatment that require expert help and intensive family involvement. We know that being the parent of a child with an eating disorder can be incredibly challenging. As parents juggle caretaking with family, work, and life, self-care is often the first thing to go.
As the case of Marie Caro shows, parents need additional support just as much as the affected child in fighting this disease. UNC Eating Disorders Program and the Duke Center for Eating Disorders believe parental support is incredibly important throughout the treatment of a child’s illness. Along with UNC’s Interdisciplinary Health Communication Program, these programs have created a communication-based project –“Caring for Yourself is Caring for Your Child” – to address this very issue. This project united the UNC School of Journalism with UNC and Duke researchers and clinicians to compile top-of-the-line resources and evidence-informed information and support specifically for parents of children with eating disorders. The project aims to help parents practice self-care, defined as taking the time to engage in activities that decrease stress and facilitate relaxation.
We urge caretakers to take advantage of this program and to peruse other online resources (see http://caringiscaring.org/websites-for-parents-and-families) and books on hand (see, http://caringiscaring.org/books-for-parents-of-children-with-eating-disorders).
If you are the parent of a loved one with an eating disorder, you are not alone. It is important for you to continue your own personal self-care as you assume a caretaking role. As a community, we want to do all that we can to prevent other tragic stories from occurring, such as that of Marie Caro. Please contact either the UNC Eating Disorders Program or Duke Center for Eating Disorders if you have further information about parent resources and support groups.