The serious consequences and difficulties with treatment of obesity and eating disorders have prompted many to suggest focusing on prevention. Although most often considered distinct conditions with competing needs, some have advocated for an integrated approach to the prevention of a spectrum of weight-related issues including obesity and eating disorders. Despite a strong rationale for focusing prevention on the spectrum of weight-related issues, tensions exist with regard to whether this is feasible or best practice. The current study used situational analysis to explore the tensions associated with the broader situation of preventing weight-related issues in schools. Semi-structed interviews and document reviews were conducted to explore whether efforts targeting obesity and eating disorders can be combined. Results emphasized the importance of creating space for conversations that acknowledge the complexity of integration and embrace the multiplicity of perspectives.


prevention, obesity, eating disorders, health promotion, situational analysis

Author Bio(s)

Alana Ireland is an assistant professor at St. Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, whose research focuses on weight-related issues such as obesity, eating disorders, body image, and weight bias with a foundation in prevention and health promotion. Please direct correspondence to Alana.Ireland@stmu.ca.

Shelly Russell-Mayhew is a research professor and registered psychologist with a research program focused on eating and weight-related issues. For more information about Shelly's research lab please visit: https://werklund.ucalgary.ca/research/body-image-lab/.

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