I keep accumulating all of these eating disorder research blurbs I want to blog, so here goes this one:
Yale University researchers found that when they presented female high school students with videos on eating disorders, it met the intended goal of boosting their knowledge about anorexia and bulimia.Health educators are clearly losing the battle in the prevention of eating disorders when students don't find vomit and electrolyte abnormalities particularly unappealing.
However, the team saw that the students didn't necessarily find the results of eating disorders unappealing. Teens who watched a video featuring a woman recovering from an eating disorder became more likely to view girls with eating disorders as "very pretty," and some thought it would be "nice to look like" the woman in the video.
[T]he girls were more likely to say after [watching the educational videos] that "it's not that hard" to recover from an eating disorder. They were also more likely to believe girls with eating disorders have "strong" personalities.At some point we have to wonder if such a study isn't just a strong cautionary tale against not pilot testing your educational materials. Our understanding of the teenage psyche somehow immediately disappears around the time that we can legally drink alcohol. Adults can pretend to understand why teenagers would think girls with eating disorders have strong personalities. We could draw flow charts and propose mechanisms, but I'm betting we'd never "get" it. That of course doesn't mean we shouldn't try to advance our understanding of disease context in eating disorders to its fullest. But we better be pretty humble in our pursuits.
The strongest message we might draw from this study might be that assumptions are futile in child psychiatry. And as soon as we know something, its probably changing due to social dynamics that defy our best mathematical models.