In 2021, approximately 46% of Ontario youth in grades 7-12 reported preoccupation with food and weight and body image concerns which are known precursors to disordered eating (Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey – OSDUHS, 2022). Canada-wide, up to 30% of youth report disordered eating symptoms (which includes food restriction, binge eating and other weight control methods).
Disordered eating places youth at risk for eating disorders. Of note, there was a significant increase in the number of children and youth seeking help for an eating disorder in Ontario throughout the pandemic (Couturier et al., 2021; Spettigue et al, 2021, Katzman, 2021). Funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Health, EDO-Prevention aims to scale up evidence-informed, implementation-sensitive and identify affirming prevention and early intervention strategies to help stave off disordered eating by helping to intervene in a strategic way on their precursors.
The EDO-P framework and overall implementation and scale up strategy is guided by:
1) prevention and implementation science and the input from international prevention scholars,
2) a culturally responsive set of principles,
3) best practices in community development,
4) discussion groups hosted with youth and carers with lived experience, and
5) lessons learned from local community engagement meetings hosted across 4 regions.
Engagement at the provincial systems level and at the local community level is underway to ensure “fit” with on the ground health promotion and prevention work led by stakeholders across multiple sectors. Alignment of EDO-P strategies is key for successful and sustainable uptake. EDO-P is supported by long standing co-development, research and collaborative partnerships carried out ith stakeholders from multiple sectors including public health, schools, post-secondary, sports stemming from a 20-year program of longitudinal intervention research (see The Ontario Project; Levine & McVey, 2015; McVey & Antonini, 2016). The EDO-P strategy is further backed up by intervention research led by additional internationally-recognized prevention scholars (Becker & Stice, 2017; Conrod, 2016; Diedrichs, 2021; Levine & Smolak, 2021).
EDO-Prevention is led by Eating Disorders Ontario at UHN, in partnership with regional lead organizations like BANA and clinical advisors across the province that, collectively, have key expertise in eating disorder treatment, prevention, health promotion, research, community development and partnership development.