Breaking the Cycle of Risk: A Program for Mothers with Histories of Disordered Eating

Nurture is a collaborative pilot study for mothers of children under the age of 3 who have suffered from disordered eating in the past. It is coordinated by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University and Virginia Commonwealth University and sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health. Nurture hopes to promote confident parenting and a positive feeding environment.

What You Can Expect

Treatment Team

All treatment is conducted by trained, licensed professionals experienced in both parenting skills training and eating disorders treatment.

Comprehensive Assessment

All participating women will have assessments during which they complete questionnaires and interviews with a clinician. In addition, we will come to the home to videotape two mealtimes with the child.

Comprehensive Treatment

During their participation in Nurture, mothers participate in 16 group sessions. Topics include:

  • Parenting styles
  • Behavior management
  • Managing your child’s feeding and eating
  • Genetics of eating disorders
  • Cultivating a positive body image in your child

Through the discussion of the above topics during the course of the 16 group sessions, the Nurture intervention hopes to teach mothers how to:

  • Create a healthy mealtime environment
  • Buffer children from unrealistic weight & shape expectations
  • Model healthy body acceptance


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Cynthia Bulik, PhD is a Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders in the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is also Professor of Nutrition in the School of Public Health and the Director of the UNC Eating Disorders Program. A clinical psychologist by training, Dr. Bulik has been conducting research and treating individuals with eating disorders for the past 26 years.

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Suzanne Mazzeo, PhD is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Pediatrics at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). She is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in eating disorders, body image, and weight regulation.

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Nancy Zucker, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center and Director of the Duke Eating Disorders Program. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in the areas of eating disorders and the development of parenting interventions in the context of disordered eating.


Contact Us

If you are interested in Nurture and want more information, please call our study coordinator--Cristin, at (919) 966-7662, or email