Millie Plotkin, MLS
Schaumberg, K., Welch, E., Breithaupt, L. E., Hubel, C., Baker, J. H., Munn-Chernoff, M. A., . . . Bulik, C. M. (2017). The science behind the Academy for Eating Disorders' Nine Truths About Eating Disorders. European Eating Disorders Review, 25(6), 432-450.
In 2014, Dr. Cynthia Bulik presented a talk titled “9 Eating Disorders Myths Busted” talk at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Alliance for Research Progress meeting. The following year, the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) and several international advocacy organizations used this presentation as the basis for a document called “Nine Truths About Eating Disorders”: https://www.aedweb.org/learn/publications/nine-truths. The purpose of the Nine Truths is to combat ongoing stereotypes and misinformation about the causes and seriousness of eating disorders. This document has been translated into thirty languages for world-wide dissemination.
This article, coauthored by Dr. Bulik, presents a review of the research supporting the Nine Truths. Each Truth is broken down into smaller headings, with an overview of the relevant articles. They are then given “confidence ratings” (low, moderate, or high) based on the strength of the evidence. The authors also make suggestions for future research that may help to fill in the gaps of low confidence. A set of supplementary materials provide a more detailed analysis of the reference articles.
Why is this important?
Stigma and stereotypes present barriers to diagnosis and treatment throughout the mental health field. Patients and families often hesitate to reach out for help, for fear of being blamed and shamed for their illnesses. Inadequately trained health professionals may be relying on outdated ideas about who is affected by eating disorders, leading to delays in intervention. Fighting the still-prevalent myths with as an easy-to-understand set of statements helps to educate the public and policymakers. It is important to have evidence to back up these statements, especially when trying to educate those who may be skeptical or set in their archaic beliefs. In addition, recognizing that some of the evidence is not as strong as we would hope gives transparency to advocacy efforts and presents opportunities for further research.