National Eating Disorders Association
Blog

Day 1 of the NEDA Conference: Challenging the Field to Move Forward

Maggi Flaherty, Communications Manager

As always, the first day of the conference was full of informative and inspirational presentations by all of our speakers, but this year's general sessions had a notable proactive tenor to them - they challenged all of us to move forward and grow as a field.

Speaking publically about his experience as a parent of a child with an eating disorder for the first time, Dr. Thomas Insel was able to give his keynote address despite the government shutdown because he was attending as a parent and not as the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health. Striking a chord with many parents, he spoke about the challenges of facing an eating disorder diagnosis with your child. Dr. Insel also pointed out that there is still so much we don’t know about why people recover from an eating disorder – citing the example of two family members who both struggled with Anorexia Nervosa and recovered on very different timelines despite similar backgrounds and family histories.

Concluding his speech, he challenged the field to look at the success that has been made with other brain based disorders – such as autism and Parkinson’s – as an example of what can happen when advocates focus their attention toward improving the science. He closed with a call for humility in the field – humility because we still have much to learn about the brain and what is really going on physiologically with eating disorders. He also encouraged national support to NEDA's Feeding Hope Foundation for Clinical Research and Training.

In the day’s second general session address, Dr. Rebecca Puhl presented on weight stigma and its relationship to eating disorders and obesity. Highlighting the serious effects weight bias have on both individuals and society as a whole, she presented research that showed the detrimental effects of stigmatizing public health campaigns against obesity. However, most interesting, was her research demonstrating that eating disorders professionals were not immune to weight bias and discrimination toward their overweight and obese patients – a finding that has serious negative impacts on the quality of care these individuals receive.

NEDA's President and CEO, Lynn Grefe, also announced the Feeding Hope Fund's inaugural grant recipients of $400,000 - devided between Denise Wilfley, PhD and Daniel LaGrange, PhD.

Today’s award recipients included Dr. Anne Becker for the Price Family Foundation Award for Research Excellence; Dr. Michael Levine for the Don and Melissa Nielsen Lifetime Achievement Award; and Dr. Bobbie Eisenstock for the Westin Family Award for Excellence in Activism and Advocacy. Congratulations to all!