Pioneering ResearchGAMBIER, Ohio (November 23, 2005) When psychology professors Michael Levine and Linda Smolak began researching eating disorders in the late 1970s, they were practically delving into the unknown.
"The only eating disorder that was known or even talked about was anorexia nervosa," Levine remembers, and that was relegated to a category many psychologists dismissed as "esoteric disorders you'll probably never encounter."
Levine and Smolak recently published Prevention of Eating Problems and Eating Disorders: Theory, Research, and Practice. The book provides a detailed, comprehensive analysis of the disorders that were rarely diagnosed and largely misunderstood just 20 years ago. Thanks in part to work done at Kenyon, health professionals now have a better grasp of the issue and an arsenal of prevention and treatment techniques.
The two professors, often working closely with psychology professor and associate provost Sarah Murnen, have earned national recognition for their contributions to the understanding of the developmental, psychological, and cultural aspects of eating disorders. Their pioneering work, often undertaken together with Kenyon students, has led to dozens of journal articles, several books, and curricular guides for teachers. They regularly speak at professional conferences and are frequently invited to address schools and civic groups. National magazines rely on them for expert commentary.
"They, together, have been the conscience of the field of prevention," says Douglas W. Bunnell, the past president of the National Eating Disorders Association, on whose Clinical and Scientific Advisory Council both Smolak and Levine serve. "Their scholarship and passion about this issue have kept the field focused on the development of better prevention strategies."