Thilo Beck at WEF Roundtable - A Roadmap to Sustainable Health and Better Well-being in the Workforce and Society

Goals House Roundtable, World Economic Forum, Davos – Thilo Beck

A Roadmap to Sustainable Health and Better Well-being in the Workforce and Society: Elaborating on Key Points.   We are living through a historical period defined by uncertainty, which is having a profound impact on our mental health. Research shows that – on average, 15% of working-age adults live with a mental health condition globally,…

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Affluent Neglect

Society expresses great concern for poor, underserved children and the increased likelihood they may lack access to health care and education, or that they may turn to drugs or crime in adulthood. Less attention is paid to children of affluent parents who have their own set of problems. Emotional neglect often goes unnoticed or unreported, which may…

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What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), developed by Marsha Linehan, Ph. in the 1980s, is a type of talk therapy originally designed for high-risk, suicidal people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Today, DBT is used to treat people struggling with a range of complex and intense emotions, including substance abuse and addiction, PTSD, bipolar disorder, eating disorders,…

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The Pandemic-Push: Why are so Many People Suddenly Buying Prescription Drugs Online?

Prescription-med sales skyrocket due to the pandemic, but when does use become abuse? Paracelsus Recovery’s experts weigh in. More and more people are illegally purchasing prescription medication such as anxiety or sleeping pills online as the pandemic takes its toll on our wellbeing. The pandemic has left a mental health crisis in its wake. Rates…

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Eating Disorders Don’t Discriminate

Today’s media places a high premium on thinness; and in the western world, we are inundated by weight loss ads, a continual stream of diet fads and an unrealistic image of women’s bodies. However, until the 1950s, extremely thin women weren’t considered as attractive as plump, curvy women.

Conversely, at least 30 million women in the United States are affected by various eating disorders, and two-thirds are women. Although eating disorders afflict primarily females, it is not a disease of only affluent white women. Eating disorders and weight issues affect people of all races and ethnicities.

The National Eating Disorders Association notes that eating disorders are prevalent among Hispanics, Asians and African-American women. While women with a strong cultural identity haven’t been as susceptible to eating disorders, the quest for a thin body is becoming increasingly important in women of color.

Unfortunately, even the medical community continues to operate under the misconception that eating disorders affect young, white women of privilege. As a result, problems affecting lower- and middle-class women and women of color often go untreated and unreported, which contributes to the misconception that they aren’t affected by eating disorders as frequently as white women.

Eating Disorders in Ethnic Communities

Eating disorders and weight issues aren’t always easily understood in ethnic communities, especially in families that have long lived in poverty. For example, young people may be shamed into eating, even when they’re full, and food is sometimes used to comfort children. Eventually, children lose their natural ability to rely on bodily cues to tell them when they are full or hungry.

Historically, the African American culture has been more accepting of larger body types, and the belief that black women are more comfortable with plumper bodies still exists. However, as black women accept the dominant cultural norms of white women, they become more susceptible to body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.

More Research is needed

In recent years, eating disorders have become more prevalent in non-western countries, including the Middle-East and China. Most think this is a result of the powerful western influence and the media’s pervasive and distorted images of women. It’s also important to keep in mind that like white women, women of color are affected not only by cultural issues, but also by genetic, cultural and environmental stresses that affect body image.

Although eating disorders affect all ethnicities and demographics, research has been limited largely to western white women. While eating disorders are complex and triggers associated with overeating may be cultural, it isn’t enough to study the affliction in the context of a select group while ignoring eating disorders among the broader global population.

Clinicians, researchers and educators must begin by changing their way of thinking. Effective research and treatment of eating disorders requires an awareness of the factors affecting all populations – not only cultural factors, and not solely issues impacting upper-class western white women.

You might also be interested to watch this TED-talk about race-based medicine.

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