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Eating Pathology Lab (Perez)

Keywords: Body Project; body acceptance; body dissatisfaction; eating disorders; minorities; childhood obesity; prevention; eating

Lab Research Area:

Under Dr. Perez’s guidance, undergraduate and doctoral students explore the genetic, biological, psychophysiological, cultural, and environmental underpinnings of eating behavior in its development towards unhealthy lifestyles. We continuously translate our basic science research into clinical applications that can improve the health and quality of life of people.

Specifically at ASU, we have launched the Body Project. The Body Project is a cognitive-dissonance based body acceptance program that's designed to help young women resist societal pressures to be unrealistically thin. This program has been heavily tested for over 10 years and has been found to reduce thin ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, and unhealthy behaviors related to eating disorders and obesity. It was developed with undergraduate women, is run by undergraduate women, and is for undergraduate woman. The undergraduate women who run the program are called peer leaders, and undergo extensive training in the program while building essential leadership skills necessary for any career.


Lab Director & Principal Investigator:  Dr. Marisol Perez, Associate Professor

Dr. Perez  received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from University of Miami and her doctoral degree in Psychology from Florida State University. Curriculum Vitae.




Doctoral Students

Amanda Bruening, Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychology. The pervasive nature of the thin ideal and the “normative experience” of body dissatisfaction among Western girls and women across development drive Ms. Bruening’s research. By the time girls have transitioned into womanhood, they are more likely to have employed extreme dieting techniques, such as liquid diets, fasting, diet pills, and diuretics. Her recent research explores the extent college women are motivated to use illicit substances for weight-loss. Her goal is to develop prevention programs for college women that address drug use for weight control purposes.

Tara Ohrt, Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychology. A significant number of children and adults in the United States are classified as overweight/obese with even higher rates in the Hispanic. Health risks associated with obesity are well established and contribute to annual public health costs as high as $147. Dual-process theory states that behavior is determined by the interplay of automatic and controlled processes; this interplay has been largely ignored in the obesity literature. Ms. Ohrt’s research plans to address this limitation by examining the dual-process theory in emotional eating, a maladaptive coping response to stress that contributes to the development and maintenance of overweight/obesity status among children and adults.

Current Undergraduate Peer Leaders

Dina Shrestha, Vayangana Silva, Lauren Arnett, Samantha Shinn, Mindy Lok, Haylie Smith, Aleasa Guerra, Morganne O’Brien, Hannah Behrendt, Josselin Salazar, Amber Ritter, Candice Baik, Brianna Farrier, Kira Hietala, Lucille Vaccarelli, Anna Von Schell, Arianna Saenz-Ochoa, Madeleine Dyckes


Past Undergraduate Peer Leaders: academic year 2014-2015 

Aneka Otte, Elizabeth Perry, Kenzi Reading, Taylor Camiliere, Jourdan Klingbeil, Bernardette Centeno, Madeline Ulivieri, Nora Padison, Alexa Gonzales, Mariam Dawoud, Aida Gafsi, Emma Stinson, Rebecca Watson, McKenna Osborne, Anne Mattson, Regan Tewksbury, Shelby Westmoreland, Jacina Laney, Emilee Howard, Alyssa Chauncey, Katie Gandee, Sofia Jones, Valeria Milovanova, Gabby Avalos, Bryn Barasha, Jasmine Finnell, Ruby Barraza, Lillian Engelhard, Gretchen Ayub, Justine Gonzales, Marie Khalaf, Brianna Steele, Carmen Estep, Tsahai Dias, Elizabeth Guidice, Lauren Perez, Hannah Price, Elizabeth Urias, Brianna Valenzuela, Emmy Nicholson, Miranda Cook, Jasmine Eythrib, Heather Gabel


Select Publications

Below are a sample of recent publications from Dr. Perez's research. A more complete listing may be found in Dr. Perez's curriculum vitae.

In press
Perez, M., Ohrt, T., & Hoek, H. (in press). Prevalence and treatment of eating disorders among Hispanics/Latino Americans in the United States Current Opinion in Psychiatry.

Perez, M., Ohrt, T.K., & Bruening, A.B. (in press). The effects of different recruitment and incentive strategies for body acceptance programs on college women. Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention. Available online for free: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10640266.2016.1192910

Ramirez, A. L., Trujillo, E., & Perez, M. (in press). Considerations in the treatment of Eating Disorders among ethnic minorities. In L. Anderson, S. Murray, & W. Kaye’s (Eds) Handbook of Complex and Atypical Eating Disorders. Oxford University Press.

Kroon Van Diest, A., Perez, M., Smith, H., Sladek, M.R. (2016). Body dissatisfaction and its correlates in 5-7 year old girls: A social learning experiment. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

Becker, C.B., Perez, M., Kippela, L.S., Deidrichs, P., Trujillo, E., & Stice. E. (2016). Engaging stakeholder communities as body image prevention partners: The Body Project as a case example. Eating Behaviors: An International Journal.

Smith, A., Bodell, L.P., Holm-Denoma, J., Joiner, T., Gordon, K., Perez, M., & Keel, P. (2016). “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a [Gen X, Y, Me] kid” Increasing maturity fears across the decades. International Journal of Behavioral Development.

Perez, M.  & Placensia, M. (2015). Psychological perspectives on ethnic minority eating behavior, and obesity. In T. Cooper & M. Skewes (Eds.) Social Issues in living color: Challenges and solutions from the perspective of ethnic minority psychology. New York: Praeger Books.

2014 and earlier
Wehrly, S.E., Bonilla, C., Liew, J., & Perez, M. (2014). Controlling parental feeding practices and child body composition of ethnically and economically diverse preschool children. Appetite,73, 163-171.doi: 10.1016/j.appet2013.11.009.

Perez, M., Kroon Van Diest, A., & Cutts, S. (2014). Preliminary examination of a mentor-based program for eating disorders. Journal of Eating Disorders Available online for free: http://www.jeatdisord.com/content/2/1/24

Kroon van Diest, A.M.  & Perez, M. (2011). Prevention of eating disorders: A review. In I. Jáuregui Lobera’s Eating Disorders. ISBN: 978-953-307-727-7. Available online for free: http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/29060.pdf

Body Project Peer Leaders



The Body Project supported the 2016 Sun Devils Wear Prada in their Every Body Beautiful fashion show on Feb 27. Check out the highlights of the event here and watch the video!



International Conference for Eating Disorders 2016
May 5 -7 2016, San Francisco, CA

The research team will have 3 paper and poster presentations at the upcoming ICED! Particular congratulations to undergraduate research assistant Haylie Smith, and doctoral student Tara Ohrt.

Congratulations to undergraduate student Haylie Smith who was awarded an Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship by the College of Arts & Sciences, and through her work over the summer just submitted her first manuscript titled “Body dissatisfaction and its correlates in 5-7 year old girls: A social learning experiment.”


Homecoming 2015. Under the Psychology tent, lab members Amanda Bruening, Kira Hietala, and Vayangana Silva had a great time getting people to give compliments to strangers as part of the Body Project initiative.