In this series, “Big Ideas in Eating Disorders,” join host, Dr. Kathy Pike, clinical psychologist and professor at Columbia University, as she talks with leaders in the field of eating disorders. We hear from researchers, clinicians, and people who have personally experienced an eating disorder. In each episode, guests share one big idea that they believe is crucial to improving the lives of people at risk for developing or currently living with an eating disorder. Capturing today’s wisdom for a better future, “Big Ideas in Eating Disorders” is filled with stories as they have never been told before.
Kathleen M. Pike, PhD
Professor of Psychology Columbia University

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Today we have the good fortune to hear from Dr. Kelly Klump whose contributions to the field of eating disorders are indeed invaluable. Inspired by one of her early mentors, Professor Gloria Leon, Dr. Klump has embarked on a journey of groundbreaking research that reshapes our understanding of the complex interplay between genetics, hormones, and environmental factors in the development of eating disorders. Dr. Klump’s exploration of gonadal hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, is steadily uncovering the relationship of hormonal fluctuations, particularly during puberty, to the onset and expression of eating disorders. Translating these findings to clinical practice has the potential to inform more effective prevention strategies and personalized interventions for individuals at risk of developing eating disorders.

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In this episode, we delve into the insights of Trinity University Psychology Professor Carolyn Becker, whose insatiable curiosity and openness to explore diverse fields have been the driving forces behind her innovative and fruitful career. Recognized for her excellence in teaching and research, Professor Becker’s expertise lies in implementing scientifically backed interventions in both clinical and real-world contexts. She has led innovative work focused on body image and athletes and has spearheaded groundbreaking research on eating disorders among individuals facing food insecurity, a demographic often overlooked by conventional eating disorder studies. Her work underscores the imperative to dismantle stereotypes surrounding eating disorders.

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Today’s episode takes us on a global journey with Dr. Anne Becker, Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Although Anne never became the meteorologist she imagined in her youth, as a psychiatrist and anthropologist, she traveled far from home to launch pioneering work in Fiji focused on how culture contributes to shaping the meaning of body image and risk for eating disorders. In this episode, Anne shares how she got to Fiji, the surprising conversations, and the evolving meaning of weight in Fijian communities at different points in time. Anne shares the serendipitous circumstances that enabled her to map the impact of the arrival of American television on triggering eating disorder symptoms and rising body shape and weight concerns. Dr. Becker’s keen intellect and her delight in discovery is riveting and contagious as she shares her pioneering work, which is foundational for anyone who wants to understand culture and eating disorders.

Becker, A.E. Television, Disordered Eating, and Young Women in Fiji: Negotiating Body Image and Identity during Rapid Social Change. Cult Med Psychiatry 28, 533–559 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-004-1067-5

Becker, A.E. Body, Self, and Society: The View from Fiji, 1995.

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