Professor Seeks to Prevent Eating Disorders Among Young Girls

Marisol Perez, an assistant professor of psychology at Texas A&M University, is conducting research on self-image and eating disorders among young girls. Most studies on eating disorders focus on teenage girls and young adult women. But Dr. Perez’s research is focused on instilling a healthy body image for young girls before the age when eating disorders typically occur.

“What we’re seeing now is that younger and younger girls are being taken to treatment centers for eating disorders,” Dr. Perez observed. “When we looked at the literature on 4 to 6-year-olds, we know very little with regard to visible symptoms, what types of symptoms, how they differ from older children, and what the risk factors look like at such a young age.”

Operating with a grant from the Hogg Foundation, Dr. Perez conducts experiments with young girls and their mothers who are prompted to talk about their body image. In one experiment, young girls are given dolls with different body types and are asked questions about the dolls’ appearance.

Dr. Perez’s research will continue for up to a year. She then plans to develop an online program for parents consisting of informational videos and other interactive activities. These tools will be designed to assist parents in developing a healthy body image for young girls.

Dr. Perez has been on the faculty at Texas A&M since 2004. She is a graduate of the University of Miami and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in psychology from Florida State University.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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