Where We Live: The New "Normal" In Eating Disorders

new study proves eating disorders cross racial and cultural lines

Tara Gulwell, Creative Commons
Where We Live: The new "normal" in Eating Disorders
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Where We Live: The new "normal" in Eating Disorders

Here’s the misperception: Eating disorders affect white, middle and upper class women.  A new study says, “not true.”  

The study, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, finds that Native American women are just as likely to suffer from binging and purging as white women.

Ruth Striegel-Moore, is a professor of psychology at Wesleyan University, and is a pioneering researcher in the field of eating disorders.  She’s done a number of studies over the years showing that these problems cross racial and cultural lines.  Women and men and people of all ages and races struggle with body image.  

Today we’ll learn why the stereotypical affluent white adolescent female is no longer the face of eating disorders in the United States.  

Are eating disorders, so long undiagnosed and unacknowledged in minority groups a silent epidemic?  


This show was originally aired on July 11, 2011.



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Listener email from Dennis

As a young male, diabetic from age 10, I was hospitalized at age 18 for the severe depression I had fallen into starting college life and being gay in the 1970's. When, at one point, I confessed to a young resident psychiatrist, my behavior of making myself vomit the food I'd eaten, he exclaimed in astonishment,"You're trying to give back to your mother the things she's given you!". I rolled my eyes and didn't understand, ashamed at having confessed. At age 55, I now remember those struggles and laugh at that therapist's exclamation. Now there is a term for the condition I'd described. I've survived a life of body image struggles, diabetes, and being an artist but am relatively healthy and have out- lived the predicted lifespan of 40 years which my parents were told when I was diagnosed as diabetic in 1967.

Listener email from Gary

Is there ever going to be any discussion on the natural drives that tell us to eat or not to eat? On the rare moments that I feel hungry, a simple glass of water will satisfy that signal. Now I am stuck with that biological drive for nutrients or type of food. Since I consciously don’t know that will satisfy that deficiency.

I feel the strong desire to eat but don’t know what my body is demanding. I feel that this is where sampling takes over. Of course, there is that time delay between eating and absorption and hence a delay before the natural satisfaction resulting in over eating. I know this is fact because I have known that when I am slightly over-dosed in insulin, I get the distinct craving for an apple. Of course, an apple satisfies the craving.

I don’t eat breakfast because I get sick if I eat that early in the morning. Greasy eggs and sausage has always been a turn off. It is not until about three hours after waking up that I can tolerate a bowl of cereal, or even juice.

Please stop putting blame on the individual claiming that since they are not following our orders then they are refusing to do so. The “orders” were designed in the 50s with that failure of a policy called the “balanced” meal. We survived for thousands of years and this “epidemic of fat” has only been growing since the 50s. Coincidence?