Hilde Bruch publishes "The Importance of Overweight"

March 4, 1957

When The Importance of Overweight was published on March 4, 1957, Hilde Bruch was already a leading childhood obesity researcher. Her work was among the first to bring the dangers of excess weight in children to public attention. Born in 1904 and raised in a small German town, Bruch originally wanted to become a mathematician. An uncle convinced her that medicine was a more practical career for a Jewish woman, and she earned her doctorate in medicine at the University of Freiburg in 1929. After giving up her academic career for private practice in response to anti-Semitism within the university, Bruch fled Germany altogether in 1933, immigrating to England. After a year in London, she moved to the United States, where she began working at Babies Hospital in New York City.

Bruch began researching obesity in children in 1937. Her work in this area would prove to be groundbreaking. Yet she left this research in 1941 to study psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University. Returning to New York in 1943, she established a private psychoanalytic practice and joined the faculty at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. While at Columbia, she published Don't Be Afraid of Your Child: A Guide for Perplexed Parents (1952).

In New York, and at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, where she joined the faculty in 1964, Bruch's research increasingly focused on the underlying causes of anorexia nervosa. She published both scholarly and popular articles on eating disorders, schizophrenia, and psychoanalysis, and continued to see patients until her 80th birthday. Her collected work, published as Eating Disorders: Obesity, Anorexia Nervosa and the Person Within in 1973, is still considered a definitive work on the subject. Bruch died in Houston in December, 1984.

SourcesJewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 192-193; Joanne Hatch Bruch, Unlocking the Golden Cage: An Intimate Biography of Hilde Bruch, M.D. (Carlsbad, CA, 1996).


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Hilde Bruch's collected works published in 1973, Eating Disorders: Obesity, Anorexia Nervosa and the Person Within, is still considered a definitive work on the subject.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Hilde Bruch publishes "The Importance of Overweight"." (Viewed on May 29, 2023) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/mar/04/1957/hilde-bruch>.


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