• Coelho, Jennifer


    Investigator, BC Children's Hospital
    Psychologist, Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for Children & Adolescents (BC Children's Hospital); Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia
    Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University

    Degrees / Designations
    Ph.D., R. Psych.
    Primary Area of Research
    Brain, Behaviour & Development
    Secondary Area(s) of Research
    604-875-2345 ext. 4986
    Lab Phone
    Mailing Address

    Eating Disorders Program, Box 178
    BC Children's Hospital
    4500 Oak Street
    Vancouver BC V6H 3N1

    Affiliate Websites
    Research Areas
    • Eating Disorders
    • Predictors of Eating Pathology
    • Cognitive Processes
    •  Clinical Outcomes

    The Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for Children & Adolescents, based at BC Children's Hospital, employs evidence-based therapies in the treatment of youth with eating disorders. As Research Lead for this program, I am examining the treatment outcomes of youth who attend treatment in the Eating Disorders Program. We believe that families are key resources for youth with eating disorders, and that it is important for parents/caregivers to be involved in the treatment process. Because families play such an important role in treatment of youth, I am also evaluating changes in well-being of parents/caregivers over the course of their child's treatment in the program. Other research interests include thought processes that are involved in the development and maintenance of eating disorders, and the overlap between eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

    Current Projects
    Clinical Features and Treatment Outcome in Male Youth with Eating Disorders

     Eating disorders are stereotypically known as a “female” disease. However, a significant minority of individuals seeking treatment for eating disorders is male, and gender distribution in early-onset eating disorders appears to be more even across males and females. Yet, the majority of research focuses on female populations, and the literature on eating disorders in male youth is particularly limited. This project was designed to address the need for additional research on male youth with eating disorders, and to elucidate knowledge about the clinical and medical characteristics of this group in relation to female youth. As part of this project, we will (1) identify the clinical characteristics of a large sample of male youth who have received treatment over the past decade; and (2) compare changes in eating pathology, well-being, and physical status over the course of intensive eating disorder  treatment in male youth with a matched female comparison group.

    Project support from the Swiss Anorexia Nervosa Foundation.

    Effectiveness of a Day Treatment Program for Pediatric Eating Disorders
    The Day Treatment Program at BC Children’s Hospital offers highly-structured, group-based treatment for children and adolescents requiring tertiary care for an eating disorder. It addresses the needs of youth requiring intensive care by providing a more structured environment than that offered in the out-patient clinic, while integrating principles of family-based therapy and providing youth and families with the opportunity to apply skills in the community. We are evaluating changes in eating disorder symptoms, psychological functioning, and well-being of youth with eating disorders who attend the Day Treatment Program at BC Children's Hospital. We are also assessing changes in family functioning over the course of treatment in the Day Treatment Program. 

    Selected Publications

    Purcell Lalonde, M., O’Connor, K., Aardema, F. & Coelho, J.S. (2015). Food for thought: Ego-dystonicity and fear of self in eating disorders. European Eating Disorders Review, 23, 179-184. PMID: 25728327

    Coelho, J.S., Wilson, S., Winslade, A., Thaler, L., Israel, M. & Steiger, H. (2014). Over-evaluation of Thoughts about Food: Differences Across Eating-Disorder Subtypes and a Preliminary Examination of Treatment Effects. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 47, 302-309.

    Thaler, L., Wilson, S., Coelho, J.S., Mazanek Antunes, J., Israel, M. & Steiger, H. (2014). Mandating weekly weight gain in a day treatment program for eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 47, 500-506. PMID: 24431323

    Coelho, J.S., Nederkoorn, C. & Jansen, A. (2014). Acute versus Repeated Chocolate Exposure: Effects on Intake and Cravings in Restrained and Unrestrained Eaters. Journal of Health Psychology, 19, 482-490. PMID: 23493868

    Coelho, J.S., Siggen, M.J., Dietre, P. & Bouvard, M. (2013). Reactivity to Thought-Shape Fusion in Adolescents: The Effects of Obesity Status. Pediatric Obesity, 8, 439-444. PMID: 23325537

    Coelho, J.S., Baeyens, C., Purdon, C., Shafran, R., Roulin, J-L., & Bouvard, M. (2013). Assessment of Thought-Shape Fusion: Initial Validation of a Short Version of the Trait Thought-Shape Fusion Scale. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 46, 77-85. PMID: 22821739

    Nederkoorn, C., Coelho, J.S., Guerrieri, R., Houben, K. & Jansen, A. (2012). Specificity of the failure to inhibit responses in overweight children. Appetite, 59, 409-413. PMID: 22664299

    Coelho, J.S., Baeyens, C., Purdon, C., Pitet, A. & Bouvard, M. (2012). Cognitive Distortions and Eating Pathology : Specificity of Thought-Shape Fusion. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50, 449-456. PMID: 22659153

    Coelho, J.S., van den Akker, K., Nederkoorn, C. & Jansen, A. (2012). Pre-exposure to High- versus Low-Caloric Foods: Effects on Children's Subsequent Fruit Intake. Eating Behaviors, 13, 71-73. PMID: 22177402


    2015-2018 -Swiss Anorexia Nervosa Foundation Research Grant. Project Title: Male Youth with Eating Disorders: Clinical Features and Treatment Outcome. Co-investigators: Pei-Yoong Lam, Sheila Marshall, Josie Geller

    2012-2015 -Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant. Project Title: Vulnerability to bizarre beliefs: The role of embodied cognition. Co-investigators: Christine Purdon & Howard Steiger

    2010-2011- Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (European Commission). Project Title: Development and application of a model for thought-shape fusion.

    Honours & Awards
    Research Group Members