Body Image, Nutrition, and Eating Disorders:
Insights from Neuroscience and Psychiatry

Date: Tuesday, November 30, 2010  Place: 1230 York Avenue at 66th Street
Registration: 6:00 – 6:30 p.m.   Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Hall
Program: 6:30 – 7:45 p.m.   The Rockefeller University

In a nation where food is abundant, body weight is constantly on our minds.  The First Lady of the United States is the latest in a long line of public figures to single out childhood obesity as an American health crisis.  Meanwhile, medical experts warn about the high incidence of disorders characterized by obsession with body image and the avoidance of eating.  These illnesses, which include anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder, are often difficult to recognize until life-threatening symptoms emerge.

The mass media are blamed for luring young people to consume sugary snacks while simultaneously promoting extreme thinness and leanness as ideals of beauty for women and, increasingly, for men as well.  These environmental triggers should not be ignored, but they cannot fully explain health conditions associated with eating behavior.  According to Sarah F. Leibowitz, Ph.D., a neurobiologist at The Rockefeller University, it is important to study chemical messages in the brain—signals of hunger and satiety that can go out of balance and affect eating behavior and psychology.  In research on animal models, Dr. Leibowitz has shown that diets rich in fats and carbohydrates can cause persistent changes in the brain’s appetite-regulating chemistry.  She has also learned that eating patterns in the young may be influenced by the composition of their mother’s diet during pregnancy.

On Tuesday, November 30, 2010, Parents & Science will present a special program on these serious health issues, featuring Dr. Leibowitz and guest speaker Evelyn Attia, M.D., a leading authority on eating disorders. Dr. Attia’s research has provided essential information about the causes of anorexia, and she has been a major force in improving patient care and treatment.  She is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and director of an integrated eating disorders center established by New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical College, Columbia University, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Please join us for a discussion that will include an examination of changing viewpoints on heredity, gender, and age as risk factors for eating disorders. The presentation will also touch on signs that parents should be aware of in monitoring their children’s health.     

To RSVP or for more information, please contact Erika Layfield at (212) 327-7434 or

Richard Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.
The Rockefeller University

Parents & Science
Faculty Advisor

Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D.
Alfred E. Mirsky Professor
Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch
Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology

Parents & Science Leadership


Daniella Lipper Coules
Talbott Simonds

Steering Committee

Rebecca Anikstein
John Bernstein
Charles W. Caulkins
Karen de Saint Phalle
Blair Pillsbury Enders
Wendy Ettinger
Kathy Heinzelman
Tania Neild, Ph.D.
Ilona Nemeth
Marean Pompidou
Courtney Smith Rae
Loli Echavarria Roosevelt
Kimberly Kravis Schulhof
Roxy Zajac

Scientific Advisory Council

Evelyn Attia, M.D.
BJ Casey, Ph.D.
Myron Hofer, M.D.
Ilene Sackler Lefcourt
Margaret McCarthy, Ph.D.
Richard Nisbett, Ph.D.
Michael Thompson, Ph.D.

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