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Lead obesity researcher Dr. Albert J. Stunkard died July 12 at age 92.
Dr. Stunkard made a number of medical discoveries that paved the way for eating disorder research today. He was the first doctor to classify binge eating as a medical disorder, in addition to first proving that body weight is, in large part, dependent on an individual’s genetic makeup.
Prior to Dr. Stunkard’s research, many doctors considered obesity to be “a disorder of the will,” and cast a negative stigma on overweight people. Dr. Stunkard openly condemned this prejudice in his book, The Pain of Obesity, published in 1980, according to the New York Times.
The public health pioneer attended Yale University before receiving a medical degree from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, as reported by Philly.com. He won the Distinguished Service Award from the American Psychiatric Association in 1994, and the Sarnat International Prize from the Institute of Medicine in 2004.
Dr. Stunkard’s wife, Margaret S. Maurin, said that Dr. Stunkard passed away in his Bryn Mawr home after suffering from pneumonia.