Position Statements

Scientists, Model Call on Fashion Industry to Shape Up

NORTHBROOK, IL, April 27, 2007

Scientists and a former supermodel are joining forces to promote healthier practices within the fashion industry as part of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) international conference in Baltimore, Maryland, May 2-5, 2007. In the wake of a string of anorexia-related deaths of runway models in South America earlier this year, the AED released a set of guidelines promoting a healthier work environment for the fashion industry.

With their initiative gaining support, the AED is partnering with the National Eating Disorders Association, the Eating Disorders Coalition, and international model Marvy Rieder to lobby the fashion industry to institute yearly medical examinations for their models, including a specialized eating disorders assessment.

A member of the AED Advisory Board, Rieder will meet with AED scientists and clinicians to discuss interventions that might protect the health of models. “These young women are often alone in foreign countries and under enormous pressure to lose weight to get jobs. They need someone to look after their health and protect against developing these devastating illnesses,” states Rieder.

More than 1,000 researchers and clinicians will gather at the AED annual meeting in Baltimore to help replace stigma with fact. Often misunderstood, the latest research on genetic and environmental risk factors for eating disorders will be presented at the conference. “Only through research will we be able to counter the myths about eating disorders with facts. Our members will reveal the latest studies on causes of, and treatment for, eating disorders,” notes Eric van Furth, PhD, FAED, President of the AED.

Some of the topics to be covered include genetics, treatment outcome, and data showing that genes and biological factors make some individuals more likely to benefit from treatment than others. The effect of environmental risk factors, such as pressures for thinness, that dominate the fashion industry will also be investigate d. Thomas Insel, MD, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, will present the conference keynote address “Research on Eating Disorders: Bridging Science and Service”.

Cynthia Bulik, PhD, FAED, University of North Carolina genetics researcher and former President of the AED remarks, “In illnesses like eating disorders, genes load the gun and environment pulls the trigger. Our researchers help identify the genes and figure out who has their finger on the trigger. The fashion industry is just one example. We also need to look at Hollywood, sports, and all of the other institutions that focus on extreme thinness.” With support from the major eating disorders organization and fashion insiders, the AED will continue to call on the fashion and beauty industry to safeguard the health of these individuals by instituting medical monitoring that can protect against eating disorders.

The Academy for Eating Disorders is an international, trans-disciplinary professional organization with over 1,400 members worldwide. The AED promotes excellence in research, treatment and the prevention of eating disorders. It provides education, training and a forum for collaboration and professional dialogue. Visit www.aedweb.org for more information on AED, eating disorders, and the Guidelines for the Fashion Industry.