Prevention of Eating Disorders & Sexual Violence

The materials listed below outline issues, activities, resources, and promising practices on the prevention of eating disorders, traumatic events that can lead to their development, and cultural norms that reinforce unhealthy attitudes around weight and body image.

Strategies for Prevention
Hot Topics in Prevention

Understanding Brain Body Connections

Strategies for Prevention


The materials listed below outline issues, activities, resources, and promising practices regarding the prevention of eating disorders, traumatic events that can contribute to their development, and cultural norms that reinforce unhealthy attitudes around weight and body image .  

General Information

Prevention & Health Promotion (3 p.) by National Eating Disorders Information Centre (NEDIC) staff and revised by Merryl Bear, M. Ed. (2003).  This is an outline of strategies and concepts related to prevention of eating disorders. 

Eating Disorder Prevention (1 p.) National Eating Disorders Association. This one-page resource introduces basic concepts of prevention, as well as some behaviors and strategies that individuals can use to attempt to prevent distorted eating.

Eating Disorder Prevention Programs: A Meta-Analytic Review (22 p.) by Eric Stice and Heather Shaw of the University of Texas at Austin (2004).  This article from the Psychological Bulletin outlines a research study focused on prevention programs.  The results identify promising prevention programs and list factors and strategies for prevention.

Incorporating Diversity in Your Prevention Efforts (1 p.) by the National Eating Disorders Association (2005).  This one-page resource is for educators interested in creating culturally competent programs when working with youth to prevent eating disorders.

Coaches & Athletic Trainers Toolkit (45 p.) by the National Eating Disorders Association (2010).  This guide, written for adults working with young adults in sports groups, outlines prevention and intervention strategies, signs and symptoms, and resources regarding eating disorders among young athletes.

Questions & Answers (7 p.) by Jeanine C. Cogan of the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action, USA and David B. Herzog of Harvard Eating Disorders Center (2005).  Published in Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention, this article makes the case for policy change and action in order to prevent eating disorders.  Recommendations include increased awareness efforts, funding for research and prevention, and legislative initiatives to promote wellness.

What We Have Learned About Primary Prevention of Food and Weight Preoccupation (4 p.) by Gail McVey, Ph.D., C.Psych for National Eating Disorders Information Centre (2003).  Dr. McVey outlines some trends in primary prevention, as well as the need for a comprehensive approach due to the complexity and nature of eating disorders.  Topics include the role of schools and parents and guardians in prevention.

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Childhood Trauma Prevention

Given the connections that have been identified between eating disorders and sexual violence, the following resources may help those working in the prevention of child sexual abuse.

Enough Abuse - This website provides parents, professionals, and concerned adults with knowledge and skills they need to help prevent child sexual abuse in their homes and communities. The Enough Abuse Campaign was formed in 2004 by the Massachusetts Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Partnership to develop and evaluate new strategies to engage adults and communities in the movement to end child sexual abuse.  

Talking To Children and Teens (Stop It Now!) (3 p.) by Stop It Now! (2010). This provides clear examples and strategies for preventing child sexual abuse through age-appropriate information and communication.  Aimed at parents, adults, and community members who work with, support, or interact with children.   

Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Information Packet by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (2011). This information packet was developed for sexual violence prevention educators, advocates, and their allied partners in public health and other disciplines. It contains resources to support the prevention of child sexual abuse and draws from research on child sexual abuse prevention programming, child sexual abuse risk and protective factors, and the public health model of prevention.

PCAR Technical Assistance Bulletin: Conducting Prevention Programs with Young Children (4 p.) by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (2011).  This resource offers information for educators and advocates implementing prevention programs with young children.  The emphasis should be focused on healthy relationships and interactions with their environment.

Please see the CSA Prevention Online Collection for additional information.

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Understanding the Impact of the Media

Body Image and the Media (1 p.) by Hardy Girls Healthy Women (n.d.). This one page tip sheet was created to help adults have discussions young women about the media and its effects on girls.

Hardy Girls Healthy Women: Five Tips for Raising Media Savvy Kids (3 p.)  by Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D., Sharon Lamb, Ed.D., and Mark Tappan, Ed.D for Hardy Girls Healthy Women (n.d.).  This resource provides information for parents and adults on how to build media literacy among young children in order to boost self-esteem and critical thinking of media.

From Awareness to Prevention: Developing solutions through media literacy (6 p.) by Louise Armstrong for the National Eating Disorders Information Centre (2001).  Armstrong discusses the outcomes of a conference on eating disorders and the importance of understanding the media’s impact on body image.

Self-Esteem, Positive Body Image, & Promoting Healthy Behaviors

New Moves: an alternative physical education program just for girls (85 p.) by New Moves (2009).  This curriculum for teachers is designed to help educators working with girls and young women to encourage positive self-talk and promote healthy body image.  The program is designed to be used with the Girl Pages exercises PDF (164 p.), as well as other materials for activities and guest speakers HTML.

Tips for Coaches: Preventing Eating Disorders in Athletes (1 p.) compiled by Karin Kratina, PhD, MPE, RD, LD for the National Eating Disorders Association (2005).  This one page resource lists strategies for coaches working with young athletes who may or may not be at higher risk for developing an eating disorder.

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Hot Topics in Prevention

Understanding brain and body connections

Brain Imaging and Eating Disorders (video, 13:24) a conversation with Walter Kaye, MD, a member of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Board of Directors and of the NEDA Research Committee (2010).   Dr. Kaye discusses what is known in terms of risk or contributing factors for eating disorders, potential biological forces, and the future of using brain imaging for research.  

The First Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) of the Genetics of Anorexia Nervosa (2 p.) by Walter Kaye, MD (2010).  This resource summarizes findings from a study conducted on brain physiology and genetic information in regards to risk factors for eating disorders. 

Anorexia may be more metabolic than mental, scientist argues (1 p.) by Stephanie Pappas of (2011).  One researcher, Donald Dwyer, asserts that chemical processes in the brain brought on by under-eating are the underlying biological cause of difficult-to-treat anorexic patients.  The research has not been evaluated with human participants and does not appear to be the general opinion of practitioners.   

People with body-image disorders process 'big picture' visual information abnormally (2 p) by Mark Wheeler of the University of California Los Angeles (2011).  This is a summary of a study published in the Journal of Psychological Medicine. Researchers found that individuals suffering from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) process visual images and information differently than those not impacted by the disorder.  It is not conclusive whether the processing is a contributing factor or an effect of BDD.

Eating Disorders are Medical Diagnoses (webpage) by Eating Disorders Treatment Help (2008). This website discusses how eating disorders are considered genetic brain diseases. There is a listing of various quotes from medical associations and physicians that attest to the fact that an eating disorder is a medical diagnosis rather than solely a psychiatric disorder.

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View additional resources:

Exploring the Links: Eating Disorders & Sexual Violence

Understanding Oppression: Eating Disorders & Sexual Violence

General Information on Eating Disorders