Dr. Marcy Forta EdD, MBA is a leading authority on eating disorder education, awareness, and prevention, focusing specifically on risk factors and prevention within the Jewish Orthodox Adolescent Community. Based in Metro Detroit, she is also a Body Project Facilitator, a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and a successful entrepreneur.
Eating Disorders and the Orthodox Adolescent Jewish Community
Studies have found Jewish orthodox adolescent females to be at higher risk over the general population for eating disorders1. Additionally, there is evidence2 that suggests that Jewish females have higher rates of disordered eating over their non-Jewish counterparts. This population has unique risk factor influences and considerations when it comes to disordered eating pathology and eating disorders. Understanding these issues helps identify these devastating and destructive disorders earlier as well as aid in the prevention of them.
Educators are uniquely positioned to positively influence their students, as well as to monitor for critical warning signs. It is imperative that educators understand eating disorders and disordered eating pathology, their risk factors, their manifestation, and what to look for in identifying issues. Further, educators must acknowledge and understand the role that classroom dynamics play both in creating risk and eating disorder onset, as well as how these issues can be prevented. These programs are imperative for anyone involved in education as they contribute not only to the much needed awareness of eating issues, but also provide a springboard from which critical ongoing discussions are implemented.
Adolescence is a critical developmental life stage and is a time that has proven to be particularly stressful. Adolescents are more prone to disordered eating than in other life stages3 and more mental health issues are diagnosed during adolescence than at any other time4. Jewish adolescent girls are at higher risk for eating disorders and increased levels of disordered eating overall5. Due to the increased vulnerability and sensitivity of adolescence, addressing these underlying issues and concerns is critical and timely.
Perceptions by children around the expectations of their parents can lead to increased risk for disordered eating pathology and eating disorders. Parents are critical to the development of the biological and social environments of their children which influence how children learn to develop their own body attitudes, as well as eating and weight management patterns6. Gaining a better understanding of the onset and risks for disordered eating and eating disorders allows parents to understand eating disorders and their risks, proactively watch for any issues that arise, and alter any dynamics that may lead to eating issues.
Eating disorders are global far-reaching problems affecting every demographic and community the world over. Dr. Forta’s research into the risks unique to the Jewish Orthodox Community can help parents, educators, and health professionals, better understand this unique demographic so as to inform tailored prevention programs for them. Dr. Forta is available to address your group or event in-person or virtually.
1: Feinson and Meir, 2012; Pinhas, 2008; Rabin, 2011;Visser et al., 2014., 2: Steiner-Adair (2004)., 3: Zullig, Mattews-Ewald, & Valios, 2016, 4: Salguero, 2018, 5: Pinhas, 2008, 6: Hart, Damiano, & Paxton, 2016.