Integrating the prevention of eating disorders and obesity: Feasible or futile?

Lori M. Irving, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


The rate of obesity in adults and youth has doubled in the past 20 years; during this same period there has been an increase in the prevalence of "dysfunctional eating behaviors," including eating disorders and unhealthy weight loss practices. Despite the fact that obesity, eating disorders, and unhealthy weight loss practices are cultivated in the same cultural context - an increasingly "toxic" environment regarding food and weight-these problems are regarded as distinct, with different origins, courses, and approaches to prevention and treatment. In this article, we present conceptual and practical reasons for adopting an integrated approach to the prevention of the spectrum of problems related to eating and weight (i.e., eating disorders, obesity, and unhealthy weight loss practices), suggest personal, socioenvironmental, and behavioral factors to be included in an integrated approach to prevention, and provide some ideas for developing an integrated program using a media literacy/advocacy approach. We conclude with a discussion of challenges to the development of interventions aimed at the broad spectrum of weight-related problems and suggestions for addressing these challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-309
Number of pages11
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Eating disorders
  • Obesity
  • Prevention


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