#17: Why is the thin ideal toxic?

with Eric Stice, PhD

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In this episode we discuss…

  • how dr. stice became interested in studying eating disorder risk factors and prevention

  • the definition of the thin ideal and current appearance ideals for women

  • the dual pathway model of risk factors for eating disorders - starting with cultural pressure to be thin and pursuit of the thin ideal

  • how internalization of the thin ideal leads to body dissatisfaction, dietary restriction, binge eating, and negative mood - risk factors for the onset of eating disorders

  • how the Body project targets an early risk factor by allowing young women to talk themselves out of pursuing unrealistic beauty ideals

  • the definition of cognitive dissonance and its role in the body project

  • research supporting the effectiveness of the body project at preventing onset of eating disorders

  • research on effectiveness of the body project with boys and men

  • dr. stice’s suggestions for adapting the lessons of the body project to parenting

  • the benefits of socratic questioning and helping your kids talk themselves out of risky behaviors

  • how to access the body project materials

  • dr. stice’s answer to the million dollar question

Research scientist Dr. Eric Stice introduces us to his findings on eating disorder risk factors, including the role of the “thin ideal.” We also discuss the Body Project, an intervention that successfully reduces risk for onset of eating disorders and has been implemented worldwide. To conclude, Dr. Stice helps us explore how parents can fight the thin ideal and apply lessons from the Body Project in their own families.

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dr. Eric Stice served as an assistant professor and associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and subsequently took a position as Senior Research Scientist at Oregon Research Institute. His research focuses on identifying risk factors that predict onset of eating disorders, obesity, substance abuse, and depression to advance knowledge regarding etiologic processes, including the use of functional neural imaging. He also designs, evaluates, and disseminates prevention and treatment interventions for eating disorders, obesity, and depression. For instance, he developed a dissonance-based eating disorder prevention program that has been implemented with over 4 million young girls in 139 countries. He has published 285 articles in high-impact outlets, including Science, Psychological Bulletin, Archives of General Biological Psychiatry, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and Journal of Neuroscience. He received a Career Award from the National Institutes of Health and a Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contributions to Psychopathology from the American Psychological Association. He is currently an Associate Editor for Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Connect with Dr. Stice on his website and access the Body Project.

Jordan Best