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.

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  • December 7, 2015
  • 08:53 AM

Exploring Family Based Treatment for Eating Disorders in China

by Jacqueline in Science of Eating Disorders

Not much is known about eating disorders in China, especially compared to its East Asian counterparts of Hong Kong and Japan. It would appear that researcher-practitioners in China are not publishing much data about eating disorders in the country; in fact, the author of the study I’ll be looking at in this post, Joyce Ma, practices primarily in Hong Kong. In this study, Ma explores China-specific patterns of ED presentation and how they relate to the social context. As she notes, treatment mo........ Read more »

  • November 9, 2015
  • 05:34 PM

Plenty of Reasons to Sit Still: The Problem(s) with Fitspiration

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

I can’t quite believe that I have yet to write a post here about fitspiration, given the ire that it provokes in me. And there you have it, right off the bat, my bias: I find fitspiration to be incredibly problematic – this will be controversial, but I often wonder if it could be more dangerous than thinspiration, in its subtleness. Fitspiration posts closely resemble what we are asked to do with our bodies every single day: eat “clean,” work out in a gym, put mind over matter, be produc........ Read more »

  • October 28, 2015
  • 06:40 PM

We’re In This Together: Collaborative Care for Eating Disorders

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

This week I had the pleasure of attending a workshop with Janet Treasure on collaborative care in eating disorders. Treasure focused her workshop on supporting caregivers of people with eating disorders, offering practical skills for carers and clinicians alike to improve interactions with those with eating disorders. Though I am neither a carer nor a clinicians, I got a lot out of the workshop, and it reminded me of a few of Treasure’s articles I’ve read over the years, and how much I appre........ Read more »

Treasure, J., Rhind, C., Macdonald, P., & Todd, G. (2015) Collaborative Care: The New Maudsley Model. Eating Disorders, 23(4), 366-376. DOI: 10.1080/10640266.2015.1044351  

  • October 18, 2015
  • 09:51 PM

Poverty and Eating Disorders in Hong Kong

by Jacqueline in Science of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are typically seen as an illness of the middle class, with most patients coming from that socioeconomic group. However, the invisibility of poorer patients within eating disorder research in part reflects the barriers to treatment that they face, including both cost and lower levels of awareness. This paper, written by a Hong Kong social work professor, Joyce Ma, focuses less on the process of eating disorder recovery, highlighting instead the context of treatment. She discusses........ Read more »

  • October 11, 2015
  • 10:02 PM

Not Horsing Around: Using Equine Therapy For Eating Disorders

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

It’s possible that some of you are already rolling your eyes: I know my audience. In the calls for evidence-based treatment, alternative therapies are often sidelined, deemed less important or less effective. While I certainly see that side of the argument, and would advocate for a continued search for treatment efficacy, I’m not ready to abandon the search for alternative approaches. Especially when used in concert with other treatments, I find alternative therapies very intriguing, partial........ Read more »

  • September 15, 2015
  • 10:18 PM

Culture and Eating Disorders: Treatment Outcomes in Singapore and Hong Kong

by Jacqueline in Science of Eating Disorders

In this last post about eating disorders in Singapore, I’ll write about the one Singapore-based retrospective outcome study in relation to a similar retrospective study conducted in Hong Kong.
In the Singapore study, researchers reviewed the charts of 94 patients diagnosed with anorexia nervosa from 1992 to 2004 at the National University Hospital, looking back from the time of the study. They didn’t contact any of the subjects for follow-up. 49 were first seen as inpatients, 34 as outpatien........ Read more »

  • September 6, 2015
  • 09:37 PM

Sensing the Body: Bodily Experience in Anorexia Nervosa

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

I’ve been reading a lot of literature on bodies and eating disorders lately as I gear up to write the theoretical paper that becomes the basis of my PhD qualifying exam. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve become a little preoccupied with teasing out my understanding of the relationship between body image and eating disorders in an era in which even saying those words in the same sentence sparks visceral reactions among listeners.
This post is not about whether body image causes eating disorders or........ Read more »

Zucker NL, Merwin RM, Bulik CM, Moskovich A, Wildes JE, & Groh J. (2013) Subjective experience of sensation in anorexia nervosa. Behaviour research and therapy, 51(6), 256-65. PMID: 23523866  

  • February 21, 2015
  • 05:33 PM

Of Binge Eating, Age, and Distress: Child-Adolescent vs. Adult-Onset Binge Eating

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

Brewerton, Rance, Dansky, O’Neil & Kilpatrick (2014) conducted a study about BED in which they used a (US) nationally representative sample to compare child/adolescent and adult onset BED in women. In this post, I’ll highlight the authors’ findings and what they mean for our increasing understanding of BED and how to support those experiencing BED.... Read more »

  • February 4, 2015
  • 02:51 AM

Beyond Thinness: Men, Muscularity and Eating Disorders

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders

Eating disorder research tends to focus on girls and women. Which makes sense: eating disorders disproportionately affect women. However, it isn’t just the research on eating disorders that focuses on women: it’s the entire history of eating disorders as a diagnosis. The first descriptions of anorexia nervosa by William Gull and bulimia nervosa by Gerald Russell were both based primarily on observations of female patients (although Russell did include two men). Therefore, it’s ........ Read more »

  • January 31, 2015
  • 10:48 AM

Whose Culture is it Anyway? Disentangling Culture and Eating Disorders - Part 5

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

We’ve begun to scratch the surface of the vast and growing literature on cultural context and eating disorders in the previous 4 posts in this series. Of course, as I reflected the other day, there could (maybe should?) be a blog solely devoted to this topic- each time I read another study in this area, it pulls me down the rabbit hole into another related area.... Read more »

Bennett D, Sharpe M, Freeman C, & Carson A. (2004) Anorexia nervosa among female secondary school students in Ghana. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science, 312-7. PMID: 15458991  

  • January 28, 2015
  • 09:30 AM

Whose Culture is it Anyway? Disentangling Culture and Eating Disorders - Part 4

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

The more I write about culture and eating disorders, the more I want to know. I keep finding more articles to add to the mix; I know I’m far from the first to be interested in how culture and eating disorders intersect, and for that matter, what counts as “culture.” Still, this has been a fascinating exploration so far! In case you're curious, this is to be the second last post in the series for now at least. There will be one more after this, about eating disorders in Gha........ Read more »

  • January 25, 2015
  • 09:13 AM

Whose Culture is it Anyway? Disentangling Culture and Eating Disorders - Part 3

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

The articles I’ve looked at so far in this series (Becker, in part 1, and Keel and Klump in part 2) give us some insight into the idea that the link between “Western” societies and eating disorders is more complex than a simple matter of media exposure. But, having read these studies, I was still left a bit wanting in terms of unpacking that black box of “culture” that gets tossed around in scholarly and popular literature. What, exactly, are we talking about when w........ Read more »

  • January 21, 2015
  • 10:15 AM

Whose Culture is it Anyway? Disentangling Culture and Eating Disorders- Part 2

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

... Read more »

  • January 18, 2015
  • 02:16 PM

Whose Culture is it Anyway? Disentangling Culture and Eating Disorders - Part 1

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

Often, in writing about eating disorders, you will come across references to how some consider these disorders to be “culture bound.” If you start to unpack what researchers and clinicians are referring to, you might come to the conclusion that “culture bound” means specific to one particular culture or society, for example, modern Western society.... Read more »

  • January 8, 2015
  • 09:21 PM

Temperament in Eating Disorders

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders

Much research has been done on personality traits associated with eating disorders, and, as I’ve blogged about here and here, on personality subtypes among patients with EDs. For example, researchers have found that individuals with AN tend to have higher levels of neuroticism and perfectionism than healthy controls (Bulik et al., 2006; Strober, 1981). Moreover, some traits, such as anxiety, have been associated with a lower likelihood of recovery, whereas others, such as impulsivity, with........ Read more »

Atiye M, Miettunen J, & Raevuori-Helkamaa A. (2014) A Meta-Analysis of Temperament in Eating Disorders. European eating disorders review : the journal of the Eating Disorders Association. PMID: 25546554  

  • January 3, 2015
  • 10:00 AM

Resistance is (not so) Futile? Exploring Treatment Resistance in Eating Disorders

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

To me, the idea of “treatment resistance” in eating disorders sparks some ill feelings. While many have suggested that treatment resistance is common among those with eating disorders, others have noted how receiving the label of “treatment resistant” can make it more difficult to receive needed support or impact how one is perceived in treatment settings and how one’s behaviours are interpreted (e.g., Gremillion, 2003).... Read more »

Abbate-Daga, G., Amianto, F., Delsedime, N., De-Bacco, C., & Fassino, S. (2013) Resistance to treatment in eating disorders: A critical challenge. BMC Psychiatry, 13(1), 294. DOI: 10.1186/1471-244X-13-294  

  • December 29, 2014
  • 01:11 PM

Smartphone Apps for the Treatment of Eating Disorders

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders

As of January 2014, over 50% of adults in the United States own a smartphone; unsurprisingly, there has been a growth in the number of mobile applications (apps) aimed at providing health care services for various mental (and physical) health problems, including eating disorders. The purpose of mobile health technologies is to utilize the functionality of smartphones to deliver a wide range of health services, including providing psychoeducation, treatment services and/or recovery support.
... Read more »

Juarascio AS, Manasse SM, Goldstein SP, Forman EM, & Butryn ML. (2014) Review of Smartphone Applications for the Treatment of Eating Disorders. European eating disorders review : the journal of the Eating Disorders Association. PMID: 25303148  

  • December 13, 2014
  • 01:45 PM

Making Connections: Peer Support and Eating Disorder Recovery

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

I feel like a broken record when I say that we continue to lack an evidence base for most “alternative” forms of support for eating disorders. As I’ve noted in prior posts, just because something is not evidence based does not mean it does not work for anyone; often, an evidence base is established when researchers can secure enough funding to run a randomized-controlled trial (RCT) that would act as evidence.
... Read more »

  • December 5, 2014
  • 08:27 AM

Treating Severe Anorexia Nervosa In The Community

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders

Can treatment for severe anorexia nervosa be delivered safely in a community setting? According to a recent paper by Calum Munro and colleagues (2014, open access), the answer is yes.
... Read more »

  • November 28, 2014
  • 04:57 PM

Fat Talk Free Zone: What is the Impact of Fat Talk on Body Dissatisfaction?

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

There has been a veritable explosion of “anti-fat talk” movements in the body image and eating disorder prevention realms over the past few years. Indeed, campaigns like the Tri-Delta Sorority Fat Talk Free week have become relatively well known. Events like the “Southern Smash,” where participants literally smash scales are other iterations of this social phenomenon encouraging a more positive conversation around bodies.
I am, of course, a fan of the idea that we shouldn’t put o........ Read more »

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