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
113 posts

Saren
4 posts

Gina
3 posts

Shelly Fan
4 posts

Andrea
22 posts

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  • April 14, 2014
  • 10:51 PM
  • 35 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
  • 81 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
  • 41 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 »

  • March 5, 2014
  • 11:25 PM
  • 119 views

Eating Disorder Awareness Week: Useful, Useless, or Worse?

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders


National Eating Disorder Awareness Week came and went (in the US, anyway). Posters were shared, liked, and tweeted. Pretty (but often misguided) infographics made the rounds on the internet. Local ED groups visited schools and college campuses to educate students about eating disorders. To, you know, increase awareness. 
The thing is, awareness is not always a good thing. For one, as Carrie over at ED Bites mentioned, there’s a whole lot of misinformation masquerading as fact. An........ Read more »

  • March 1, 2014
  • 07:25 PM
  • 110 views

Impossible Binaries? Eating Disorders Among Trans Individuals

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


Recently I was doing some research for an upcoming (and very exciting)  endeavour that involves exploring eating disorders among LGBTQ individuals. As one does, I set about scouring the research literature in this area in the hopes of stumbling across some prior articles on which to hang my proverbial research hat.
As I sifted through the databases, however, my searches kept coming up short. After sending out a call to a list-serv enquiring about the state of the field in this area, I rec........ Read more »

  • February 24, 2014
  • 01:17 PM
  • 106 views

In a Relationship and It’s Complicated: Eating Disorders in Intimate Relationships

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


What would you do if your partner started restricting caloric intake or bingeing and purging? Would you know how to approach your partner, how to offer support? And what about your own mental health?
Coping with an eating disorder in the context of any relationship can be tricky. There is a growing body of literature that addresses ways to bolster support for caregivers. While this is encouraging, a number of these studies explore the experiences of “caregivers” as a generic category e........ Read more »

Dick, C.H., Renes, S.L., Moroti, A., & Strange, A.T. (2013) Understanding and Assisting Couples Affected by an Eating Disorder. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 43(3), 232-244. info:/10.1080/01926187.2012.677728

  • February 19, 2014
  • 10:43 PM
  • 145 views

Eating Disorders and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders


Eating disorder patients commonly complain of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms including bloating, abdominal pain, and constipation. This is, of course, not surprising. After all, disordered eating behaviours such as self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, and restriction are bound to have negative effects on the digestive system.
But just how common are GI complaints and functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) like irritable bowel syndrome among ED patients? And is there more to the r........ Read more »

  • February 15, 2014
  • 02:28 PM
  • 154 views

Models of Anorexia Nervosa: A Few Insights from Our Animal Cousins

by Liz in Science of Eating Disorders


In 1967, Routtenberg and Kuznesof reported a very peculiar phenomenon in rats:
They discovered that when rats were on a restricted feeding schedule (1 hour per day in their experiment) and had free access to a running wheel, their food intake was significantly lower than in control rats, which were on the same feeding schedule but without access to a running wheel. This discrepancy between increased running activity and decreased food intake caused substantial body weight loss, and if rats........ Read more »

  • February 8, 2014
  • 10:11 PM
  • 121 views

Nothing to SCOFF at: Screening for Eating Disorders in the Emergency Room

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


As many who have suffered from eating disorders know, these illnesses can often go unnoticed for years. Family members and friends might not be the only ones who don’t catch the signs and symptoms of EDs; doctors, too, may not identify the presence of an eating disorder. Whether or not sufferers desire to get help, the symptoms associated with eating disorders often lead many to present at doctors’ offices and emergency departments, suffering from “mysterious ailments.”
In a study........ Read more »

Dooley-Hash, S., Lipson, S.K., Walton, M.A., & Cunningham, R.M. (2013) Increased emergency department use by adolescents and young adults with eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 308-315. info:/10.1002/eat.22070

  • February 4, 2014
  • 09:48 PM
  • 132 views

Setting a Target Weight: An Arbitrary Exercise?

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders


Achieving a healthy weight is a major goal of anorexia nervosa treatment. Indeed, a healthy weight is often seen as a prerequisite for psychological recovery. The fact that weight restoration is a crucial component of recovery is uncontroversial, the problem arises when it comes to determining what constitutes a healthy weight. How are ideal, optimal, or goal weights set? And who gets to decide?
Despite its recognized importance, there’s surprisingly little consensus on how target w........ Read more »

  • January 31, 2014
  • 12:04 AM
  • 166 views

You Sure You Want to Eat That? Perceived Consequences of Eating & Its Relation to Recovery

by Jackie in Science of Eating Disorders


I recently had a total Aha! moment (or a why-didn’t-I-ever-think-of-it moment) when I had chanced upon a recently published article titled “Eating Expectancies in Relation to Eating Disorder Recovery” by Fitzsimmons-Craft and colleagues. The title caught my attention because I had never come across any research tying eating expectancies to eating disorders, though I was familiar with the concept from the health psychology and obesity literature. Eating, as a ........ Read more »

  • January 22, 2014
  • 11:44 AM
  • 151 views

Narrative Therapy and Eating Disorders: Help or Hype?

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


If you kick around the eating disorder recovery/treatment/research community for a while, you’re bound to come across someone calling their eating disorder “Ed.” In both the popular and scholarly literature around eating disorders, this externalizing and personifying approach has come to be quite popular. At face value, it makes sense to attribute blame for what can be an extremely difficult and painful experience to something other than oneself; it might be easier to “fight fo........ Read more »

Scott, N., Hanstock, T.L., & Patterson-Kane, L. (2013) Using narrative therapy to treat eating disorder not otherwise specified. Clinical Case Studies, 12(4), 307-321. info:/10.1177/1534650113486184

  • January 18, 2014
  • 11:04 PM
  • 177 views

Enraged by Sounds: Misophonia in Eating Disorder Patients (Clinicians, Listen Up)

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders


Few people would claim to like the sound of chewing, lip smacking, or pen clicking. But while disliking these noises is commonplace, experiencing anxiety, panic and/or rage in response to them–a condition called misophonia (hatred of sound)–is not.
Well, truth be told, we don’t actually know how common it is: Searching “misophonia” in PubMed returns just 14 results. Seven were published in 2013/2014, and only three were published prior to 2010. (Searching........ Read more »

  • January 15, 2014
  • 04:07 PM
  • 132 views

Is Eating Disorder Prevention Possible?

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders


How did I ever find things to write about before social media? Recently, someone on Tumblr asked whether eating disorder prevention and awareness efforts do more harm than good. In other words, can attempting to prevent eating disorders actually contribute to their development? Good question, I thought. I’ve often wondered about this myself, especially in light of some emerging studies suggesting that “healthy eating” campaigns may actually contribute to unhealthy (restrictive) behav........ Read more »

  • January 13, 2014
  • 10:53 AM
  • 172 views

Examining Mandometer(r) Founders’ 10 “Reasons” Why Eating Disorders Are Not Mental Disorders – Part II

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders


This is the last post in my mini-series on the Mandometer® Treatment. (Links to earlier posts here: Part I, Part II, and Part III). In this post I’m going to continue examining Bergh et al.’s reasons for why eating disorders are not mental disorders (#6-10). In my last post I omitted something important: I didn’t define mental disorders, but to avoid repeating myself, please see my comment on the topic here.
Bergh et al.’s reason #6 why EDs are not mental disorder........ Read more »

Bergh C, Callmar M, Danemar S, Hölcke M, Isberg S, Leon M, Lindgren J, Lundqvist A, Niinimaa M, Olofsson B.... (2013) Effective treatment of eating disorders: Results at multiple sites. Behavioral Neuroscience, 127(6), 878-89. PMID: 24341712  

  • January 8, 2014
  • 10:00 AM
  • 201 views

Examining Mandometer(r) Founders’ 10 “Reasons” Why Eating Disorders Are Not Mental Disorders

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders


This is Part III of my mini-series on the Mandometer® treatment. In my first post, I wrote about the history and rationale of the Mandometer® treatment. In my second post, I evaluated a recent study published by the creators of Mandometer® (Bergh et al., 2013); I wanted to see whether their data supported their claims (spoiler alert: it didn’t). In this post, I’m going to focus on the first five of Bergh et al.’s ten reasons why eating disorders are not mental disorders........ Read more »

Bergh C, Callmar M, Danemar S, Hölcke M, Isberg S, Leon M, Lindgren J, Lundqvist A, Niinimaa M, Olofsson B.... (2013) Effective treatment of eating disorders: Results at multiple sites. Behavioral Neuroscience, 127(6), 878-89. PMID: 24341712  

  • December 30, 2013
  • 11:22 AM
  • 209 views

The Finest Quality Snake Oil: Mandometer(r) Treatment for Eating Disorders – Part II

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders


This is Part II of my mini-series on the Mandometer(r) treatment for eating disorders (link to Part I). In Part I, I provided some background on the Mandometer(r) treatment; in this post, I want to take an in-depth look at the recent Mandometer treatment study. My main goal is to see whether their data live up to their claims. Warning: This post may contain high levels of snark.  
Their main claims? This is from the abstract:
Sounds pretty good, right? (Note the use of the word “........ Read more »

Bergh C, Callmar M, Danemar S, Hölcke M, Isberg S, Leon M, Lindgren J, Lundqvist A, Niinimaa M, Olofsson B.... (2013) Effective treatment of eating disorders: Results at multiple sites. Behavioral neuroscience, 127(6), 878-89. PMID: 24341712  

  • December 24, 2013
  • 08:05 PM
  • 217 views

The Finest Quality Snake Oil: Mandometer(r) Treatment for Eating Disorders – Part I

by Tetyana in Science of Eating Disorders


PROTIP: When selling your snake oil treatment, try NOT to make wildly outrageous efficacy claims. But if you can’t resist that temptation, try to limit your hard-to-believe, eye-roll-inducing claims to your treatment — there’s no need to go further.
In this post, I’m going to give a brief history of the Mandometer® treatment and its apparent rationale. In the next one or two posts, I will do an analysis of the most recently study by the group that claims to show r........ Read more »

Bergh, C., Eklund, S., Eriksson, M., Lindberg, G., & Sodersten, P. (1996) A new treatment of anorexia nervosa. . The Lancet, 611-612. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(05)64824-6  

Bergh C, Callmar M, Danemar S, Hölcke M, Isberg S, Leon M, Lindgren J, Lundqvist A, Niinimaa M, Olofsson B.... (2013) Effective treatment of eating disorders: Results at multiple sites. Behavioral neuroscience, 127(6), 878-89. PMID: 24341712  

  • December 3, 2013
  • 06:05 PM
  • 248 views

Complex Motherhood: The Perspectives of Mothers with Eating Disorders

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

Studying, as I do, in a department of family relations, I have become interested in family relationships and parenting. Accordingly, I have begun to take note of interesting studies that link family dynamics and parenting with eating disorders, including studies that look at the sibling relationship (as I wrote about here), family-based treatment, and motherhood/fatherhood in the context of eating disorders.

The literature appears to have shifted, lately, from a focus on “eating-disorder ........ Read more »

  • November 8, 2013
  • 11:28 PM
  • 273 views

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy for the “Difficult to Treat” Eating Disorder Patients

by Andrea in Science of Eating Disorders

If there is anything we’ve learned over the  many years of eating disorder research, it is that eating disorders are extremely complex. Often, this complexity is intensified by comorbidities, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and “personality disorders.” Unfortunately, individuals whose disorders are labeled persistent, chronic, or “difficult to treat” may be even less likely to receive the treatment and support they require, deserve, and de........ Read more »

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