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Eating Disorders Blog

German Research Finds Reduced Grey Matter in Brains of Anorexic Patients

People suffering from anorexia nervosa show decreased amounts of gray matter in their brains, according to a new study from Germany.

  • Dr. Joos Kloppel and his colleagues used brain imaging technology to study the brains of 12 people with anorexia and 17 who are bulimic.
  • The ones with bulimia did not show changes in the gray or white matter in their brains but the anorexics showed less volume in gray matter.
  • One interesting finding of the study was that the subjects' scores on "drive for thinness" correlated with right inferior degree matter volumes in both the anorexic and bulimic subjects.

The study appears in the journal Neuropsychologist.

Labels: anorexia, brain chemistry

Posted By: Jane St. Clair 1 Comment

Weight-Related Teasing & Negative Body Image

If children get teased about their weight at school, they are more likely develop negative feelings about their bodies. This negative body image can, in turn, lead to disordered eating and related mental health issues, according to a new study from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

  • Dr. Timothy Nelson studied hundreds of children whose average age was 11 years old
  • Dr. Nelson compared his subjects' actual heights and weights with their perceptions of their bodies.
  • If children were teased and criticized by peers, they were more likely to be less satisfied with the size of their bodies and to judge their physical selves more harshly.

"Weight-related criticism is one of the last socially acceptable forms of criticism," Dr. Nelson said. "There's often a sense that overweight people 'deserve' it or if they are prodded about their weight, they'll do something about it. Our research suggests that this kind of criticism tends to increase the victim's dissatisfaction, which has shown to be a factor in poorer outcomes with pediatric weight management programs. It becomes something of a vicious cycle."

This study appears in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

Labels: body image, emotions, schools

Posted By: Jane St. Clair 0 Comments

Controversial Book Portrays Family's Efforts to Help Daughter Overcome Anorexia

At first, Kitty Brown's parents thought she was just failing to gain enough weight to keep up with her growth in height.

Eventually, though, they learned that their teenage daughter had anorexia nervosa, a deadly eating disorder that kills people at a higher rate than any other psychiatric disorder, including schizophrenia and depression. Kitty's mother, Harriet, says her mantra became, "I love you and I'm not going to let you starve."

Kitty slowly recovered, although she had a relapse four years later.

The Browns' struggle with anorexia is recorded in the book, "Brave Girl Eating," published by William Morrow. The book has been the source of some controversy, as it promotes the Maudsley Approach, which encourages family members to take control of the eating habits of the eating disorder sufferer.

Research has shown that the human body does not tolerate being starved and then re-fed, and that process causes people to feel anxious, depressed and angry. This is often why anorexia is so difficult to treat. Many patients have to be put on feeding tubes if their weights and blood pressure levels drop to dangerous, life-threatening levels.

Labels: awareness, anorexia, maudsley approach

Posted By: Eating Disorders Blog 0 Comments

New Show to Highlight 'Freaky Eaters' & Therapists Trying to Help Them

A new television show called "Freaky Eaters" features those with bizarre food preferences and the professionals who are trying to help him.

  • One episode is about a poet who eats only raw meat in order to prove himself manly to his father, grandfather, and brother, all of whom have military backgrounds.
  • Another features "French fry girl," a freaky eater who eats only French fries and nothing else. Her therapist dyes her potatoes different colors in order to make them repulsive to her, and then forces her to eat them.

Dr. Mike Dow, a therapist who hosts the show, says that "freaky eating" could be classified as a non-specified eating disorder (a category also commonly known as EDNOS) . Sufferers often eat just one or two foods, and thereby receive inadequate nutrition. Most of them are overweight. People with the disorder usually have an "emotional addictive component" within their strange eating habits, Dr. Dow said.

"Usually there is something that they are medicating," he said. "There was a study that says it takes more and more of the same amount of fat to cause the same response in the brain. We build tolerance to food in the same way people build tolerance to cocaine or alcohol. There is a biological addictive response that is being built. I don't think a lot of people think of food as an addictive substance, but it absolutely is."

Labels: awareness, media, ednos, picky eaters

Posted By: Jane St. Clair 0 Comments

Awareness Increasing about Selective Eating Disorder

When people hear the phrase “eating disorder,” they typically think of anorexia or bulimia. But one that’s not-often talked about is Selective Eating Disorder, which causes the sufferer to severely restrict the types of food she’ll eat.

“According to the University College at London’s Institute of Child Health up to 20 percent of children below the age of five years are picky eaters and some of them grow up to be SED adults – restricting, avoiding, even fearing certain foods. Some psychologists say that SED is a combination eating disorder, phobia and addiction problem – but not a lot is known about it.” [Source: C Healthy (Canada)]

Duke University recently launched the first-ever public registry of picky eating, aimed at recording the habits of picky eaters for the sake of more extensive research. Julie Notto, program director for a Toronto eating disorder center – says picky eating and SED are unhealthy coping mechanisms that require treatment.


Labels: picky eaters, selective eating disorder

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 0 Comments

Experts Working to Understand Sleep Eating Disorders

Sleep eating disorders may have to do with the shutdown of the brain's frontal lobes during sleep. The remainder of the brain remains active and direct sleep eaters to get out of bed and find food, according to research from Dr. Carlos Schenck, a psychiatrist who has spent 20 years researching this topic.

"They can get up, they see their environment," Dr. Schenck said, "and they know where the kitchen is. However, they have no judgment, no inhibition - and that's the problem."

As part of his research, Dr. Schenck videotapes people who "sleep eat." When they watch themselves, their tapes are often quite upsetting to them.

"Patients who have a sleep behavioral disorder such as sleep eating, when they see the tape of themselves, they are truly shocked, saying, "My God, I didn't realize I was capable of doing this,'" said Dr. Schenck.

Sleep eaters usually have no memory of what happened or why they ate strange substances such as Elmer's glue and SOS soap pads. Some create dangers for themselves, for example, the patient who set fire to his house when he tried to cook napkins in his toaster.

"People have also cut their fingers chopping food," the psychiatrist said. "We're talking about major risk of injury during the night from both sleep eating and the associated sleep walking."

Dr. Schenck said that sleep disorders remain a mystery even to him, although he is one of the foremost experts in the world.

"It's not about willpower," he said. "It's not a psychological problem. It's a major physiological force coming from within your brain and body to eat at night so inappropriately."

Labels: sleep, sleep eating

Posted By: CRC Health 0 Comments

4 Factors Can Predict Onset of Eating Disorder

Many women in the United States are not happy with their bodies. However, in order to develop an eating disorder, body dissatisfaction alone is not enough. A woman must also obsessively examine her body and worry about how she appears to others, according to new research from the Ohio State University.

"Body dissatisfaction is so prevalent among women in our society that it is not useful in identifying women who may have eating disorders," said Professor Tracy Tylka, lead author of the studies.

Dr. Tylka's work involves studies of 304 college aged women and 373 women ages 17 to 58 years old. A combination of "body surveillance" along with body dissatisfaction was most likely to predict the development of eating disorders.

"Body surveillance involves actions like continually looking at yourself in the mirror to see how you look," said Dr. Tylka. "Women who do this tend to ignore their internal feelings and emotions and concentrate on their outward appearance. They think of their bodies as objects."

  • Those in the study who were overly concerned about what others think of them were also more likely to ignore their hunger and develop eating disorders.
  • Other factors related to the development of an eating disorder included being neurotic, that is, a person who is anxious nervous, worried, and insecure; and having a family member or friend who has an eating disorder.

"About three to eight percent of women have eating disorders," said Dr. Tylka. "This research shows there are factors such as constant body monitoring that strengthen the relationship between body dissatisfaction and eating disorders and may help identify women at risk. Knowing these moderating factors can help health professionals understand which women with body dissatisfaction may have a tendency toward problems with disordered eating."

These studies were published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology.

Posted By: CRC Health 1 Comment