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Cornell Professor Emerita Joan Jacobs Brumberg explores the historical roots of anorexia nervosa in a February 16, 2012 lecture presented by the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti (CAPE).
Brumberg has studied the cultural meaning of appetite in women's lives from medieval ascetics to 21st century adolescents and discusses the role of individual biology and the influence of culture on the disease, which affects as many as 1 million young women a year in the United States. She suggests that the burgeoning incidence of anorexia in the last 30 years is due to complex transitions in sexuality and family life and with food, eating, exercise and the body.