National Eating Disorders Association

#NEDA2014 Conference Recap – Day Two!

Caitlin Hamilton, Media & Communications Manager

Day two of the 2014 NEDA Conference was a day of hope. Both general sessions – the Family Panel and the session on Prevention – sent the message that when we stick together, we can make progress against eating disorders. We also announced the winners of the Feeding Hope Fund grants, whose innovative research projects will also make progress in the ways we treat eating disorders.

The two winning proposals are Christina Wierenga, Ph.D. and Kerri Boutelle, Ph.D. of the University of California, San Diego and Laura Hill, Ph.D from the Center for Balanced Living, with the proposal titled, "An Innovative Family Based Treatment for Adults with Anorexia Nervosa Using Insights from Neurobiology" and  Joanna Steinglass, M.D., Timothy Walsh, M.D., and Evelyn Attia, M.D., of Columbia University Medical Center, with the proposal titled, "Changing Habits in Anorexia Nervosa: A Novel Approach." The two awardees, who were selected by NEDA’s board of directors and research advisory council, will each receive grants of $100,000.

After the announcement of the grant winners, speakers on the Family Panel took the stage.  The panel was moderated by Ovidio Bermudez, MD and additional presenters included: Angelina Avalos, Brian Cuban, Gerald J. Hemendinger, Tchaiko Omawale, Adam Radwan, and Debbie Yarbrough. Gerald Hemendinger, who is a father whose twin daughters both suffered from eating disorders, told about the dark times he and his family went through during the long road to recovery. But he finished his heartfelt story by sharing about the light at the end of the tunnel. Now, his daughters are both doing well and his family is stronger than ever.

Adam Radwan, who was his sister’s primary supporter during her recovery, talked about the role of self-care and forgiveness in his experience. “It’s like on the airplane when they tell you to put your oxygen mask on before you help anyone else. It’s the same thing when you’re supporting someone who is struggling with an eating disorder – you have to take care of yourself first or you won’t be able to care for your loved one.” He also talked about the anger and frustration he felt sometimes when helping his sister. But he said that he realized that forgiveness made his experience much easier. “I practiced forgiveness for my sister for her struggling and relapsing and forgiveness for myself for not being able to cure her.”

The Conference then turned to the ways in which we can help prevent people from getting so sick in the first place. The session, entitled "Closing the Gap Between Researchers and the Public for Evidence-Based Prevention" was a panel discussion on eating disorer prevention featuring Carolyn Becker, PhD, SAED, C. Barr Taylor, MD  and Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., MPH, RD. The panel was all about the ways in which we can work together as a field to reduce the number of people who will suffer from an eating disorder. Though there are no easy answers to this problem, the panel reminded us that there are many people, both professionals and those who have been personally affected, who are exploring every avenue possible to make strides in the area of prevention.

This year’s Conference was again a huge success and we want to thank the presenters who shared their stories and expertise, the attendees for coming out and sharing their warmth, and all of the volunteers who helped ensure that the Conference ran smoothly! We look forward to seeing you all again next year in San Diego!

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