Science of Eating Disorders

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Dedicated to making eating disorder research more accessible to the public, Science of Eating Disorders summarizes and reviews recent findings in peer-reviewed research on the genetics, neurobiology and psychiatry of eating disorders.

Tetyana
117 posts

Saren
4 posts

Gina
3 posts

Shelly Fan
4 posts

Andrea
33 posts

Shirley Wang
0 posts

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  • September 6, 2014
  • 02:11 PM
  • 83 views

Unpacking Recovery Part 5: Clinical Recovery without a Clinic?

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


It can be somewhat controversial to suggest that untreated recovery from eating disorders is possible. Certainly, people have varied opinions about whether someone can enact the difficult behavioral and attitudinal changes necessary to recover without the help of (at the very least) a therapist and a dietitian. Nonetheless, we still hear stories about individuals who consider themselves recovered without having sought out external sources of professional support.
When I think about untreat........ Read more »

  • September 1, 2014
  • 11:46 PM
  • 101 views

Unpacking Recovery Part 4: Are We All on the Same Page?

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


Another issue in defining and understanding recovery is that patients and clinicians may have different opinions about what recovery looks like and how to get there. Certainly, there is a body of literature from the critical feminist tradition in particular that explores how at times, patients can “follow the rules” of treatment systems to achieve a semblance of “recovery,” from a weight restoration and nutrition stabilization perspective, but feels nothing like a full and happy li........ Read more »

  • August 25, 2014
  • 03:38 PM
  • 106 views

Unpacking Recovery Part 3: Can Patients Imagine Recovery?

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


Today I have the distinct pleasure of writing about one of my favourite articles about eating disorder recovery by Malson et al. (2011) exploring how inpatients talk about eating disorder recovery. I have personally found this article to be very helpful in understanding some of the difficulties of understanding and achieving recovery in our social context.
As Malson and colleagues explain (and as we’ve established), eating disorder recovery is elusive. Often, poor prognosis is described ........ Read more »

Malson H, Bailey L, Clarke S, Treasure J, Anderson G, & Kohn M. (2011) Un/imaginable future selves: a discourse analysis of in-patients' talk about recovery from an 'eating disorder'. European eating disorders review : the journal of the Eating Disorders Association, 19(1), 25-36. PMID: 21182163  

  • August 22, 2014
  • 06:51 PM
  • 131 views

Using Animal Research to Justify Eating Disorder Treatment Practices: Are We Going Too Far? (On Eating Junk Food in Treatment – Part II)

by Liz in Science of Eating Disorders


As a follow up to Shirley’s post on eating hyper-palatable foods during eating disorder treatment , I asked Liz–SEDs’ resident expert on animal behaviour, particularly in relation to binge eating and drug addiction–to look at some of the studies that Julie O’Toole mentioned as evidence for Kartini Clinic’s guidelines of avoiding hyper-palatable foods for the first year of eating disorder recovery. If you missed Dr. O’Toole’s post, please........ Read more »

Hagan, M.M., Wauford, P.K., Chandler, P.C., Jarrett, L.A., Rybak, R.J., & Blackburn, K. (2002) A new animal model of binge eating: key synergistic role of past caloric restriction and stress. Physiology , 77(1), 45-54. PMID: 12213501  

  • August 15, 2014
  • 03:20 PM
  • 163 views

In Defense of Eating Junk Food in Eating Disorder Treatment

by Shirley in Science of Eating Disorders


Should eating disorder patients be introduced to “junk food” or “hyper-palatable” foods during treatment? A few days ago, I stumbled across a blog post where Dr. Julie O’Toole, Founder and Director of the Kartini Clinic for Disordered Eating, argues against introducing “junk food” during ED treatment. The crux of the argument is that “hyperpalatable foods”—e.g., chips and Cheetos—are not real food and should never be forced or encouraged for anyone, regard........ Read more »

  • August 4, 2014
  • 10:43 AM
  • 169 views

Unpacking Eating Disorder Recovery Part 1: The Recovery Model

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


What does eating disorder recovery really look like? When you say the word “recovery,” differences of opinion loom large. The lack of definitional clarity around the concept of recovery came up many times at ICED, and continues to surface in discussions among researchers, clinicians, and individuals with eating disorders themselves. We’ve looked at recovery on the blog before (for example, Gina looked at how patients define recovery here; Tetyana surveyed readers about th........ Read more »

Dawson L, Rhodes P, & Touyz S. (2014) The recovery model and anorexia nervosa. The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry. PMID: 24927735  

  • July 31, 2014
  • 07:18 PM
  • 343 views

Serious Restrictive Eating Disorders Occur at Any Weight

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders


Although the words “anorexia nervosa” typically conjure up images of emaciated bodies, eating disorders characterized by dietary restriction or weight loss can — and do — occur at any weight. However, precisely because anorexia nervosa is associated with underweight, doctors are less likely to identify eating disorders among individuals who are in the so-called “normal” or above normal weight range, even if they have........ Read more »

  • July 28, 2014
  • 07:55 PM
  • 148 views

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder & Eating Disorders: Is There a Link?

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, is a common childhood disorder. ADHD can often persist into adolescence and adulthood. The prevalence of ADHD is thought to be between 6-7% among children and adolescents and ~5% among adults (Willcutt, 2012).
Increasingly, evidence from multiple studies has pointed to comorbidity between ADHD and eating disorders (EDs). For example, one study found that young females with ADHD we........ Read more »

  • June 26, 2014
  • 07:32 PM
  • 152 views

The Dollars and Cents of Eating Disorders

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


I must admit that I cringe slightly every time I try to think about healthcare from an economics perspective. To me, this comes a little close to putting a dollar value on human beings, which feels uncomfortably post-humanistic to me. Nonetheless, there is no ignoring the ways in which economic concerns factor into policy decisions that drive our human services, including health care.
There are also a number of pragmatic reasons for thinking about the costs associated with illnesses; talki........ Read more »

Crow S. (2014) The economics of eating disorder treatment. Current psychiatry reports, 16(7), 454. PMID: 24817201  

  • June 21, 2014
  • 12:20 PM
  • 207 views

Not Just for Kids: Disordered Eating and Body Dissatisfaction in Midlife

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


When I tell people I research eating disorders I generally get one of three reactions:

They ask me how I got into this research
They tell me a story about themselves or a friend/family member suffering from an eating disorder
They share some knowledge they’ve gleaned at some point about what it looks like to have an eating disorder (often, “aren’t eating disorders most common in teenagers?”)

Those are without question the most common responses I get, ignoring the really horrible ........ Read more »

  • June 11, 2014
  • 07:56 PM
  • 177 views

Of Family Dynamics and Eating Disorders: Parents’ Experiences of Skills-Based Training

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


Parents of children with eating disorders face an extraordinarily difficult challenge; the work that they put into caring for their loved ones cannot be discounted. This can be especially challenging in the face of a social environment that tends toward parent-blaming for disorders. Further, the kinds of behaviors caregivers are obliged to encourage in the individual with an eating disorder (for example, eating calorically-dense foods in order to gain weight) are frowned upon, to say the l........ Read more »

Goodier GH, McCormack J, Egan SJ, Watson HJ, Hoiles KJ, Todd G, & Treasure JL. (2014) Parent skills training treatment for parents of children and adolescents with eating disorders: a qualitative study. The International journal of eating disorders, 47(4), 368-75. PMID: 24843891  

  • June 4, 2014
  • 04:18 PM
  • 232 views

Walking a Mile in Your Shoes: Treating Eating Disorders with a Personal History of Eating Problems

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


A big topic at ICED, and one that seems to continually resurface, is treatment professionals in recovery. One the one hand, many see healthcare professionals with a history of eating disorders as possessing a kind of empathy that may be inaccessible to those who have not “been there.” On the other, some argue that this history complicates the patient-professional relationship in potentially detrimental ways.
You’ll find proponents of both sides of this debate from both professional a........ Read more »

  • May 24, 2014
  • 04:49 PM
  • 290 views

Gendering the Pro-Anorexia Paradox: Men in Pro-Ana Spaces

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


When someone says “pro-ana,” what comes to mind? Likely, given the strong reactions pro-anorexia websites provoke, you may be able to conjure up an image of what would take place in such a forum. Thoughts of “thinspiration,” emaciated and waif-like images, and starving tips likely spring to mind, alongside considerations of the dangers of a community that would encourage behaviors that can be very harmful to health.
I’d venture to say that it is unlikely that you have pictured a ........ Read more »

  • May 7, 2014
  • 11:39 PM
  • 451 views

Hypermetabolism in Anorexia Nervosa

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders


Weight restoration is a crucial component of anorexia nervosa treatment. It is a challenging process for a multitude of reasons. Adding to the complexity and the challenge is the fact that during weight restoration, individuals with anorexia nervosa tend to require increasingly more calories to maintain the same rate of weight gain.
That is, individuals need to continually increase their caloric intake, in steps, sometimes upwards of 100 calories (technically, kilocalories) per kilogram pe........ Read more »

  • April 30, 2014
  • 09:20 PM
  • 265 views

Political Bodies: What is the Impact of National or Regional-Level Eating Disorder Prevention?

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


When it comes to prevention, I’ve noticed a strong interest in working toward large-scale prevention initiatives. I’ve written about prevention before, noting the potential for unintended effects, as well as schoolgirls’ reactions to and acceptance of prevention interventions (here). But what about the larger scale efforts to prevent body image concerns and eating disorders?
Countries from the US to Australia to Israel have taken strides to implement initiatives aimed at improvi........ Read more »

  • April 22, 2014
  • 02:56 PM
  • 278 views

Polar Opposites? The Social Construction of Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


Some might argue that bulimia nervosa is more “hidden” than anorexia nervosa — it is not always obvious that someone is suffering from bulimia (though, I would argue, it is not always obvious that someone is suffering from any eating disorder). Even when it is “discovered,” BN is often placed in opposition with AN — as if the two were polar opposites.
Indeed, attempts to define a phenotype (a set of observable traits or characteristics) for AN and BN tend to oppose the ........ Read more »

  • April 19, 2014
  • 12:46 AM
  • 329 views

Energy Expenditure (Calories Burned) in Anorexia Nervosa Patients

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders


How many calories do patients with anorexia nervosa need to eat to gain a kilo (2.2 lbs)? It seems like a simple question and one that we should have figured out a long time ago, given the importance (err, necessity) of refeeding and weight restoration in recovery from anorexia nervosa.
Unfortunately, research in this area has often led to contradictory results (see Salisbury et al., 1995 and de Zwaan et al., 2002 for reviews). Fortunately, a paper by Stephan Zipfel and colleagues (2013,........ Read more »

Zipfel S, Mack I, Baur LA, Hebebrand J, Touyz S, Herzog W, Abraham S, Davies PS, & Russell J. (2013) Impact of exercise on energy metabolism in anorexia nervosa. Journal of Eating Disorders, 1(1), 37. PMID: 24499685  

  • April 14, 2014
  • 10:51 PM
  • 288 views

Disordered Eating and Athletic Performance: Where’s the Line?

by Emma in Science of Eating Disorders


If a person severely restricts his diet and exercises for hours each day, he has an eating disorder. If another does exactly the same but it is because she wants to make the lightweight rowing team (which has an upper weight limit), she’s a committed athlete. When the two overlap, and an athlete presents with eating disorder symptoms, how do we distinguish between the demands of the sport and the illness?
I’ve been interested in the distinctions we make between disordered and n........ Read more »

  • March 23, 2014
  • 09:07 AM
  • 300 views

For the Health of It: Disentangling “Healthy Eating” and “Orthorexia”

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


When is “healthy eating” not so healthy? The line between “normal” and “pathological” eating behaviours is blurry, to say the least. For some time, researchers have been attempting to define a “new” category of eating disorders: orthorexia. This category would capture “obsessions” with “healthy eating” that are (presumably) not already captured in current diagnostic criteria for eating disorders.
If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you might already know ........ Read more »

Koven, N.S., & Senbonmatsu, R. (2013) A neuropsychological evaluation of orthorexia nervosa. Open Journal of Psychiatry, 214-222. info:/10.4236/ojpsych.2013.32019

  • March 9, 2014
  • 12:49 PM
  • 491 views

Matters of Appearance: Eating Disorder Patients’ Interpretations of Therapists’ Bodies

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


Therapeutic alliance is often highlighted in studies looking at treatment effectiveness, both in and beyond the realm of eating disorder therapy. Evidently, there are a number of factors that can impact how well we get along with our therapists, ranging from disagreements with the course of treatment or type of therapy to a simple, unnamable dislike for the person. But what about their appearance? What kind of impact could a therapist’s body size have on the therapy relationship?
Rance, ........ Read more »

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