The team at the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders is dedicated to community outreach and was appreciative of the opportunity to speak on January 8, 2014 to young ballet dancers in training at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of the American Ballet Theater about early detection of eating disorders.
Dr. Laurel Mayer spoke to teens about diagnostic criteria and medical complications of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and related conditions. She highlighted the numerous biological and psychological factors that may contribute to the onset of an eating disorder. Her talk underscored that participation in sports or artistic endeavors in which leanness is emphasized, like ballet, running, or wrestling and activities in which scoring is partly subjective, such as figure skating or gymnastics, is associated with a higher incidence of eating disorders.
Dr. Mayer provided guidance on balanced eating and healthy body weight to the group of dancers, and addressed their questions about how to stay strong, focused and well-nourished throughout intensive training. Lastly, she encouraged the students to be savvy consumers of popular media, to remain alert to the prevalence of digitally retouched images that communicate an unrealistic body “ideal,” and to be aware that even within the artistic community, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
Written by Deborah R. Glasofer, Ph.D. with contributions by Sima Kaplan and Esther Neustadt.