Cynthia Bulik: "Busting stereotypes, uncovering biology"

Welcome to another installment of “10 Words or Less,” in which I ask interesting people for brief answers to brief questions. Today’s participant is a clinical psychologist and author who holds the nation’s first endowed professorship in eating disorders, at the University of North Carolina. Remember, please: No counting! “10 words” is about attitude, not addition, and besides, let’s see you do it. 

UNC researcher Cynthia Bulik

Name Cynthia Bulik
Born when, where 1960, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Residence Chapel Hill, NC
Family situation Married, three kids
A transformative event from your childhood “The death of my brother, Mark. I was 9. He was a premature baby who lived one day.”
When did you know you wanted to research ED? “My sophomore year in college. I was invited to do rounds with George Hsu, the attending physician for an eating disorders program in Pittsburgh.”
A surprising fact about you “I’m a [national-level] gold medalist ice dancer.”

A guilty pleasure “Let’s say ‘less than intellectual’ novels.” 
Regarding your food...
... Effortless or regimented?
... Spontaneous or studied? “Spontaneous, but informed.”
... Salty/fatty or sweet/creamy? “Yes.”
... Your favorite dish “Poppy seed cake.”
Regarding eating disorders, are we closer to the dark ages or the promised land?“The promised land. We’re busting stereotypes and uncovering biology.”
The biggest impediment to change “Removing false information from the public consciousness.”
Like what? "Even after the research has been proven fraudulent and retracted from the scientific literature, people still think vaccines cause autism. Just like people still think eating disorders are a choice or caused only by sociocultural factors."
Everything in moderation, or should some people avoid some foods? “For a small percentage, avoidance is the only option. For others, moderation rules.”
How do people know which they are? “Try moderation first. In my hierarchy, avoidance is better as a final option.”
Is obesity a disease? “Obesity is more than one thing.”
Of course. But is one of them a disease? “Some forms are.”
Is bariatric surgery a solution? “For some people, yes.”
Your opinion of the term “food addiction” “It is valuable to point us in a direction, but it requires elaboration for full understanding.”
Does food addiction exist? “Addictive principles apply to some people relative to food.”
Someone outside your family whom you admire: “Hillary Clinton. She is an effective woman, and an excellent role model.”
The one thing you wish everyone would just get right “The importance of generosity of relationships.”

Bulik is the author most recently of “The Woman in the Mirror: How to Stop Confusing What You Look Like with Who You Are,” which releases officially tomorrow. She is director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program, Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders in the department of psychiatry, and professor of nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Twitter: @cbulik


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