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Seminar looks at body image and disordered eating


Brigid Veale
18 July 2011
Identifying the risk factors for body image and disordered eating and the success of intervention programs will be the topic of a free seminar at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus on Friday, July 22.

The regular Psychology Colloquium, hosted by the School of Health and Human Sciences, will feature guest speaker Professor Susan Paxton, from the School of Psychological Science at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Professor Paxton has a longstanding clinical and research interest in body image and eating disorders. She was a member of the Body Image Advisory Group which advised the Federal Minister for Youth, Kate Ellis, and a member of the Victorian State Ministerial Advisory Committee on Body Image and Ministerial Advisory Committee for Eating Disorders.

“The focus of my talk will be on understanding factors that contribute to the development of body image and disordered eating and exploring interventions that help reduce problems before they become really severe,” Professor Paxton said.

“In Australia, approximately seven per cent of females and a smaller proportion of males suffer from a clinical eating disorder. However, a greater proportion is affected by the negative consequences of sub-clinical problems.”

Professor Paxton said the problems were not restricted to teenage girls, with a large proportion of women in mid-life experiencing body image or eating disorders.

“The greater importance that a person places on appearance, the higher the risk. If people are in an environment that focuses on appearance or one in which there is appearance-based teasing that can also increase risk,” she said.

“We have developed a number of different programs that I will be discussing that help give people skills to cope with these pressures. For teenage girls, we have developed a prevention intervention that helps girls understand and potentially change appearance pressures from within their own friendship environment. In an early intervention trial we were helping teenagers look at their world a little differently, and to manage the social appearance pressures more effectively.

“We also have a program for young adult women and women in mid-life. Intervening early is definitely important and makes treatment much more effective.”

The free seminar will be held at the Coffs Harbour campus at 2.30pm in D350 and videoconferenced to Lismore P158 and SCU Riverside A 223.

For information please contact Dr Alison Bowling on 6659 3032 or email [email protected]

Photo: Professor Susan Paxton will be giving a seminar on body image and eating disorders.