Newswise — The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) has canceled the 2009 International Conference on Eating Disorders (ICED), scheduled for April 30 — May 2 in Cancun, Mexico, because of increasing concerns over the possibility of a global H1N1, or swine flu, pandemic.

"We regret having had to make this decision. The International Conference is the highlight of our year as an organization," said AED President Judith Banker. "However, we believe that our primary responsibility is to the health of our participants and those they serve as clinicians and researchers." More than 600 clinicians and researchers and hundreds of family members were expected for the conference, many of whom were traveling from or through Mexico City, the epicenter of the swine flu outbreak. In addition, many AED members had been recalled by their hospitals and institutions to because of their responsibilities to provide support in the event of localized epidemics. Government agencies and NGOs around the world have restricted travel or issued advisory warnings against non-essential travel to Mexico.

As concerns mounted about the spread of the flu throughout Mexico, including Cancun, and increasing security measures were taken in Mexico (including the closing of schools and businesses), the AED board of directors took the unprecedented step of cancelling the meeting.

A Spanish speaking satellite conference with participants from all over the Americas had also been planned in conjunction with the ICED. This event too was cancelled due to health concerns and the significant proportion of people participating from Mexico City. "We did not take this decision lightly," said Banker. "But the Mexican government has specifically warned against large gatherings, and we couldn't in good conscience put our attendees, the people they're returning to and the local community at potential risk."

AED's annual meeting is the key opportunity for eating disorder researchers and clinicians to exchange the latest information on prevention, treatment and research on eating disorders and obesity, and to set goals for ongoing work in the field for the coming year. The impact of the cancellation will be deeply felt by AED and its members, but this organization of medical professionals believes strongly in its responsibility to protect global public health.

"We're all heartbroken over the incredible eating disorders education that will be missed, but in light of this ongoing global crisis, the board made the only choice it could make," said AED President-Elect Susan Paxton. "Our future is still bright, and we've already seen a tremendous outpouring of support from our members." The AED is already hard at work, developing plans for future professional education and training opportunities. For information updates, visit

The Academy for Eating Disorders is an international, trans-disciplinary professional organization with more than 1,400 members worldwide. The AED promotes excellence in research, treatment and the prevention of eating disorders. It provides education, training and a forum for collaboration and professional dialogue.