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Six books to help us understand eating disorders

Some 70 million people worldwide have an eating disorder and, with the prevalence of disordered eating on the rise,  it’s clear that this presents a significant public health issue. Despite this, many myths and misconceptions abound that are significant barriers to both treatment and public understanding of eating disorders. Anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of age, gender, or cultural background.

We’ve put together a list of books that provide practical information to dispel misconceptions, as well as guidance for people affected by eating disorders and their loved ones.

1. If Your Adolescent Has An Eating Disorder: An Essential Guide for Parents by B. Timothy Walsh and Deborah R. Glasofer
This is an authoritative guide to understanding and helping a teenager with an eating disorder. It is designed for parents of teens who have recently been diagnosed with an eating disorder, or who are at risk of developing one, and for other adults, such as teachers and guidance counselors, who are regularly in contact with at-risk adolescents. The book combines the latest science–including the newest treatments and most up-to-date research findings on eating disorders–with the practical wisdom of parents who have been raising teens with eating disorders.

2. Eating Disorders: What Everyone Needs to Know by B. Timothy Walsh, Evelyn Attia, and Deborah R. Glasofer
Practical yet authoritative, this book defines eating disorders, explains what we know about them based on the latest science, and describes how treatment works. The book dispels common myths about eating disorders, such as the notion that they occur only amongst the affluent, that they affect only girls and women, or that they simply result from environmental factors such as the fashion industry and society’s obsession with thinness. This book is essential reading for those seeking authoritative and current information about these often-misunderstood illnesses.

3. The Void Inside: Bringing Purging Disorder to Light by Pamela K. Keel
This book chronicles the growing recognition of purging disorder at the turn of the millennium, reviews what science has taught us about the illness, and explains the medical complications that purging may bring. The author, known for her work identifying and naming purging disorder, presents irrefutable evidence that it can no longer be considered a subset of better-known eating disorders. Keel illuminates how the illness impacts the lives of real people to underscore the severity of this hidden eating disorder and the need for greater awareness.

4. Exposure Therapy for Eating Disorders  by Carolyn Black Becker, Nicholas R. Farrell, and Glenn Waller
This book is designed to augment existing eating disorder treatment manuals by providing clinicians with practical advice for maximizing the effectiveness of exposure, regardless of clinical background or evidence-based treatment used. Suitable for use with a range of diagnoses, this easy-to-use guide describes the most up to date empirical research on exposure for eating disorders. The book also provides strategies for overcoming obstacles, including institutional resistance to implementation of exposure therapy.

5. Handbook of Positive Body Image and Embodiment  by Tracy L. Tylka and Niva Piran
This book is the first comprehensive, research-based resource to address the breadth of innovative theoretical concepts and related practices concerning positive ways of living in the body. Presenting chapters by world-renowned experts in body image and eating behaviors, the handbook explores how therapeutic interventions and public health and policy initiatives can inform scholarly, clinical, and prevention-based work in the field of eating disorders.

6. Eating Disorders: The Facts by Suzanne Abraham
Sympathetically and clearly written, this guide considers why eating disorders occur, and then looks at each in turn, describing the eating behaviours, diagnosis, and treatments available. Case histories and patient perspectives provide insights into the mind of the eating disorder sufferer, making it easier for patients and their families to relate to the topics discussed. The book provides an authoritative resource on eating disorders that will prove valuable for sufferers and their families.

These titles highlight some of the most pressing issues in the field of eating disorder research. Greater awareness among stakeholders – including healthcare workers, researchers, policymakers, and the general public – can address ongoing challenges and inform future directions.

Featured Image Credit: Image by jannoon028 via Freepik

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