Public Health Nutrition


Integrated prevention of obesity and eating disorders: barriers, developments and opportunities

David Sánchez-Carracedoa1 c1, Dianne Neumark-Sztainera2 and Gemma López-Guimeràa1

a1 Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès), Barcelona, Spain

a2 Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA


The serious consequences of obesity and eating disorders (ED), difficulties encountered in treatment and the high prevalence of these conditions are important reasons to develop efforts aimed at their prevention. The implementation of integrated interventions aimed at preventing risk factors for both obesity and ED constitutes a very exciting development. In the present paper we discuss and review the main reasons for an integrated approach to the spectrum of eating- and weight-related problems, which include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, anorexic and bulimic behaviours, unhealthy dieting practices, body dissatisfaction, binge-eating disorder, overweight and obesity. Given differences between the fields with regard to current perspectives and objectives, key barriers to an integrated approach to prevention are discussed. In order to show the possibilities of development of this approach, we review the main contributions made to date in the fields of both obesity and ED prevention. In particular, environmental approaches in the prevention of obesity and ED are reviewed, given their potential for preventing a broad spectrum of eating- and weight-related problems. Furthermore, several examples of initiatives that have utilized an integrated approach to prevention are discussed.

Narrative review.

We recommend a scenario in which the two fields share knowledge to enhance the difficult work of preventing and treating both ED and obesity.

(Received June 04 2011)

(Revised November 18 2011)

(Accepted February 03 2012)

(Online publication March 28 2012)


  • Obesity;
  • Eating disorders;
  • Prevention;
  • Children;
  • Adolescents


c1 Corresponding author: Email