To increase the likelihood of finding genetic variation conferring liability to eating disorders, we measured over 100 attributes thought to be related to liability to eating disorders on affected individuals from multiplex families and two cohorts: one recruited through a proband with anorexia nervosa (AN; AN cohort); the other recruited through a proband with bulimia nervosa (BN; BN cohort). By a multilayer decision process based on expert evaluation and statistical analysis, six traits were selected for linkage analysis (1): obsessionality (OBS), age at menarche (MENAR) and anxiety (ANX) for quantitative trait locus (QTL) linkage analysis; and lifetime minimum Body Mass Index (BMI), concern over mistakes (CM) and food-related obsessions (OBF) for covariate-based linkage analysis. The BN cohort produced the largest linkage signals: for QTL linkage analysis, four suggestive signals: (for MENAR, at 10p13; for ANX, at 1q31.1, 4q35.2, and 8q13.1); for covariate-based linkage analyses, both significant and suggestive linkages (for BMI, one significant [4q21.1] and three suggestive [3p23, 10p13, 5p15.3]; for CM, two significant [16p13.3, 14q21.1] and three suggestive [4p15.33, 8q11.23, 10p11.21]; and for OBF, one significant [14q21.1] and five suggestive [4p16.1, 10p13.1, 8q11.23, 16p13.3, 18p11.31]). Results from the AN cohort were far less compelling: for QTL linkage analysis, two suggestive signals (for OBS at 6q21 and for ANX at 9p21.3); for covariate-based linkage analysis, five suggestive signals (for BMI at 4q13.1, for CM at 11p11.2 and 17q25.1, and for OBF at 17q25.1 and 15q26.2). Overlap between the two cohorts was minimal for substantial linkage signals.
Complex disease; endophenotype; liability; mixture model; regression
Supported by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), this 12-site international collaboration seeks to identify genetic variants that affect risk for anorexia nervosa (AN).
Four hundred families will be ascertained with two or more individuals affected with AN. The assessment battery produces a rich set of phenotypes comprising eating disorder diagnoses and psychological and personality features known to be associated with vulnerability to eating disorders.
We report attributes of the first 200 families, comprising 200 probands and 232 affected relatives.
These results provide context for the genotyping of the first 200 families by the Center for Inherited Disease Research. We will analyze our first 200 families for linkage, complete recruitment of roughly 400 families, and then perform final linkage analyses on the complete cohort. DNA, genotypes, and phenotypes will form a national eating disorder repository maintained by NIMH and available to qualified investigators.
anorexia nervosa; eating disorders; bulimia nervosa; psychiatric disorders; genetics; linkage analysis; genomics
Anorexia nervosa (AN) is associated with behavioral traits that predate the onset of AN and persist after recovery. We identified patterns of behavioral traits in AN trios (proband plus two biological parents).
A total of 433 complete trios were collected in the Price Foundation Genetic Study of AN using standardized instruments for eating disorder (ED) symptoms, anxiety, perfectionism, and temperament. We used latent profile analysis and ANOVA to identify and validate patterns of behavioral traits.
We distinguished three classes with medium to large effect sizes by mothers’ and probands’ drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction, perfectionism, neuroticism, trait anxiety, and harm avoidance. Fathers did not differ significantly across classes. Classes were distinguished by degree of symptomatology rather than qualitative differences. Class 1 (~33 %) comprised low symptom probands and mothers with scores in the healthy range. Class 2 (~43 %) included probands with marked elevations in drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction, neuroticism, trait anxiety, and harm avoidance and mothers with mild anxious/perfectionistic traits. Class 3 (~24 %) included probands and mothers with elevations on ED and anxious/perfectionistic traits. Mother–daughter symptom severity was related in classes 1 and 3 only. Trio profiles did not differ significantly by proband clinical status or subtype.
A key finding is the importance of mother and daughter traits in the identification of temperament and personality patterns in families affected by AN. Mother–daughter pairs with severe ED and anxious/perfectionistic traits may represent a more homogeneous and familial variant of AN that could be of value in genetic studies.
Anorexia nervosa; eating disorder; genetics; temperament
Patients with anorexia nervosa-restricting type (AN-R) sometimes develop accompanying bulimic symptoms or the full syndrome of bulimia nervosa (BN). If clinicians could predict who might change into the bulimic sub-type or BN, preventative steps could be taken. Therefore, we investigated anthropometric and psychological factors possibly associated with such changes.
All participants were from a study by the Japanese Genetic Research Group for Eating Disorders. Of 80 patients initially diagnosed with AN-R, 22 changed to the AN-Binge Eating/Purging Type (AN-BP) and 14 to BN for some period of time. The remaining 44 patients remained AN-R only from the onset to the investigation period. Variables compared by ANOVA included anthropometric measures, personality traits such as Multiple Perfectionism Scale scores and Temperament and Character Inventory scores, and Beck Depression Inventory-II scores.
In comparison with AN-R only patients, those who developed BN had significantly higher current BMI (p < 0.05) and maximum BMI in the past (p < 0.05). They also scored significantly higher for the psychological characteristic of parental criticism (p < 0.05) and lower in self-directedness (p < 0.05), which confirms previous reports, but these differences disappeared when the depression score was used as a co-variant. No significant differences were obtained for personality traits or depression among the AN-R only patients irrespective of their duration of illness.
The present findings suggest a tendency toward obesity among patients who cross over from AN-R to BN. Low self-directedness and high parental criticism may be associated with the development of BN by patients with AN-R, although the differences may also be associated with depression.
We present a bivariate twin analysis of anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) to determine the extent to which shared genetic and environmental factors contribute to liability to these disorders.
Focusing on females from the Swedish Twin study of Adults: Genes and Environment (STAGE) (N=7000), we calculated heritability estimates for narrow and broad AN and BN and estimated their genetic correlation.
In the full model, the heritability estimate for narrow AN was (a2 = .57; 95% CI: .00, .81) and for narrow BN (a2 = .62; 95% CI: .08, .70) with the remaining variance accounted for by unique environmental factors. Shared environmental factors estimates were (c2 = .00; 95% CI: .00, .67) for AN and (c2 = .00; 95% CI: .00, .40) for BN. Moderate additive genetic (.46) and unique environmental (.42) correlations between AN and BN were observed. Heritability estimates for broad AN were lower (a2 = .29; 95% CI: .04, .43) than for narrow AN, but estimates for broad BN were similar to narrow BN. The genetic correlation for broad AN and BN was .79 and the unique environmental correlation was .44.
We highlight the contribution of additive genetic factors to both narrow and broad AN and BN and demonstrate a moderate overlap of both genetic and unique environmental factors that influence the two conditions. Common concurrent and sequential comorbidity of AN and BN can in part be accounted for by shared genetic and environmental influences on liability although independent factors also operative.
Assessment of eating disorders at the symptom level can facilitate the refinement of phenotypes. We examined genetic and environmental contributions to liability to anorexia nervosa (AN) symptoms in a population-based twin sample using a genetic common pathway model.
Participants were from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health Twin Panel and included all female monozygotic (n = 448 complete pairs and 4 singletons) and dizygotic (n = 263 complete pairs and 4 singletons) twins who completed the Composite International Diagnostic Interview assessing DSM-IV axis I and ICD-10 criteria. Responses to items assessing AN symptoms were included in a model fitted using marginal maximum likelihood.
Heritability of the overall AN diagnosis was moderate (a2 = .22, 95% CI: 0.0; .50), whereas heritabilities of the specific items varied. Heritability estimates for weight loss items were moderate (a2 estimates ranged from .31 to .34) and items assessing weight concern when at a low weight were smaller (ranging from .18 to .29). Additive genetic factors contributed little to the variance of amenorrhea, which was most strongly influenced by unshared environment (a2 =.16; e2 = .71).
AN symptoms are differentially heritable. Specific criteria such as those related to body weight and weight loss history represent more biologically driven potential endophenotypes or liability indices. Results regarding weight concern differ somewhat from those of previous studies, which highlights the importance of assessing genetic and environmental influences on variance of traits within specific subgroups of interest.
Practical limitations and sample size considerations often lead to broadening of diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa (AN) in research. The current study sought to elucidate the effects of this practice on resultant sample characteristics in terms of eating disorder behaviors, psychiatric comorbidities, temperament and personality characteristics, and heritability point estimates. Three definitions of AN were created: meeting all Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV (DSM-IV) criteria for AN (AN-DSM-IV), meeting all DSM-IV criteria except criterion D, amenorrhea, (AN-noD), and broadening DSM-IV AN criteria by allowing a higher body mass index value, eliminating criterion D, and allowing less stringent body weight concerns (AN-Broad). Using data from the Swedish Twin Registry, 473 women fit one of the three definitions of AN. Women with AN-DSM-IV reported significantly more eating disorder behaviors than women with AN-Broad. Women with AN-noD reported more comorbid psychiatric disorders than women with AN-DSM-IV and AN-Broad. Temperament and personality characteristics did not differ across the three groups. Heritability point estimates decreased as AN definition broadened. Broadening the diagnostic criteria for AN results in an increased number of individuals available for participation in research studies. However, broader criteria for AN yield a more heterogeneous sample with regard to eating disorder symptoms and psychiatric comorbidity than a sample defined by narrower criteria.
Anorexia Nervosa; Classification; Diagnostic Criteria; Eating Disorder
Family, twin, and adoption studies of anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), binge-eating disorder (BED), and the proposed purging disorder presentation (PD) have consistently demonstrated that genetic factors contribute to the variance in liability to eating disorders. In addition, endophenotypes and component phenotypes of eating disorders have been evaluated and provide further insight regarding genetic factors influencing eating disorders and eating disorder diagnostic criteria. Many of these phenotypes have demonstrated substantial heritability. This chapter reviews biometrical genetic methods and current findings from family and twin studies that investigate the role of genes and environment in the etiology of eating disorders. We review the methodology used to estimate heritability, the results of these studies, and discuss the implications of this research for the basic conceptualization of eating disorders and the future value of twin modeling in the molecular genetic era.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is designed primarily as a clinical tool. Yet high rates of diagnostic “crossover” among the anorexia nervosa subtypes and bulimia nervosa may reflect problems with the validity of the current diagnostic schema, thereby limiting its clinical utility. This study was designed to examine diagnostic crossover longitudinally in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa to inform the validity of the DSM-IV-TR eating disorders classification system.
A total of 216 women with a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa were followed for 7 years; weekly eating disorder symptom data collected using the Eating Disorder Longitudinal Interval Follow-Up Examination allowed for diagnoses to be made throughout the follow-up period.
Over 7 years, the majority of women with anorexia nervosa experienced diagnostic crossover: more than half crossed between the restricting and binge eating/purging anorexia nervosa subtypes over time; one-third crossed over to bulimia nervosa but were likely to relapse into anorexia nervosa. Women with bulimia nervosa were unlikely to cross over to anorexia nervosa.
These findings support the longitudinal distinction of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa but do not support the anorexia nervosa subtyping schema.
Disordered eating behavior and body dissatisfaction affect a large proportion of the Dutch population and account for severe psychological, physical and social morbidity. Yet, the threshold for seeking professional care is still high. In the Netherlands, only 7.5% of patients with bulimia nervosa and 33% of patients with anorexia nervosa are treated within the mental health care system. Easily accessible and low-threshold interventions, therefore, are needed urgently. The internet has great potential to offer such interventions. The aim of this study is to determine whether a web-based treatment program for patients with eating disorders can improve eating disorder psychopathology among female patients with bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and eating disorders not otherwise specified.
This randomized controlled trial will compare the outcomes of an experimental treatment group to a waiting list control group. In the web-based treatment program, participants will communicate personally and asynchronously with their therapists exclusively via the internet. The first part of the program will focus on analyzing eating attitudes and behaviors. In the second part of the program participants will learn how to change their attitudes and behaviors. Participants assigned to the waiting list control group will receive no-reply email messages once every two weeks during the waiting period of 15 weeks, after which they can start the program. The primary outcome measure is an improvement in eating disorder psychopathology as determined by the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire. Secondary outcomes include improvements in body image, physical and mental health, body weight, self-esteem, quality of life, and social contacts. In addition, the participants’ motivation for treatment and their acceptability of the program and the therapeutic alliance will be measured. The study will follow the recommendations in the CONSORT statement relating to designing and reporting on RCTs.
This study protocol presents the design of a RCT for evaluating the effectiveness of a web-based treatment program using intensive therapeutic support for female patients with bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and eating disorders not otherwise specified.
The protocol for this study is registered with the Netherlands Trial Registry NTR2415.
Eating disorders; Bulimia nervosa; Binge eating disorder; Eating disorders not otherwise specified; Randomized controlled trial; Web-based treatment program; e-health; Intensive therapeutic support; Asynchronous support
Food intake is mediated, in part, through brain pathways for motivation and reinforcement. Dysregulation of these pathways may underlay some of the behaviors exhibited by patients with eating disorders. Research using animal models of eating disorders has greatly contributed to the detailed study of potential brain mechanisms that many underlie the causes or consequences of aberrant eating behaviors. This review focuses on neurochemical evidence of reward-related brain dysfunctions obtained through animal models of binge eating, bulimia nervosa, or anorexia nervosa. The findings suggest that alterations in dopamine (DA), acetylcholine (ACh) and opioid systems in reward-related brain areas occur in response to binge eating of palatable foods. Moreover, animal models of bulimia nervosa suggest that while bingeing on palatable food releases DA, purging attenuates the release of ACh that might otherwise signal satiety. Animal models of anorexia nervosa suggest that restricted access to food enhances the reinforcing effects of DA when the animal does eat. The activity-based anorexia model suggests alterations in mesolimbic DA and serotonin occur as a result of starvation coupled with excessive wheel running. These findings with animal models complement data obtained through neuroimaging and pharmacotherapy studies of clinical populations. Finally, information on the neurochemical consequences of the behaviors associated with these eating disorders will be useful in understanding these complex disorders and may inform future therapeutic approaches, as discussed here.
acetylcholine; binge eating; clinical studies; dopamine; eating disorders; opioids; rat; serotonin
Elucidation of clinically relevant subtypes has been proposed as a means of advancing treatment research, but classifying anorexia nervosa (AN) patients into restricting and binge-eating/purging types has demonstrated limited predictive validity. This study aimed to evaluate whether an approach to classifying eating disorder patients based on comorbid personality psychopathology has utility in predicting treatment response and readmission in patients with AN.
Data were collected from 154 AN patients (M[SD] age = 25.6[9.4] years; 95.5% female; 96.8% Caucasian) at admission, discharge, and three months post-discharge from intensive treatment. Latent profile analysis of personality traits assessed at admission was performed to classify participants into personality subtypes, which were then used to predict outcomes at discharge and risk of readmission.
The best-fitting model identified three personality subtypes (undercontrolled, overcontrolled, low psychopathology) that contributed significantly to multivariate models predicting study outcomes. Undercontrolled patients were more likely to have a poor outcome at discharge than overcontrolled (OR = 3.56, p = .01) and low psychopathology patients (OR = 11.23, p <.001). Undercontrolled patients also had a greater risk of discharge against medical advice (HR = 2.08, p = .02) and readmission than overcontrolled patients (HR = 3.76, p = .009). Binge-eating/purging versus restricting subtypes did not predict discharge against medical advice or readmission in the multivariate models.
Findings support the clinical utility of personality subtypes in AN. Future work is needed to identify mechanisms that explain diminished treatment response in undercontrolled patients and to develop interventions for this high-risk group.
anorexia nervosa; subtypes; personality; latent profile analysis; treatment
Few of the limited randomized controlled trails (RCTs) for adolescent anorexia nervosa (AN) have explored the effects of moderators and mediators on outcome. This study aimed to identify treatment moderators and mediators of remission at end of treatment (EOT) and 6- and 12-month follow-up (FU) for adolescents with AN (N=121) who participated in a multi-center RCT of family-based treatment (FBT) and individual adolescent focused therapy (AFT). Mixed effects modeling were utilized and included all available outcome data at all time points. Remission was defined as ≥95% IBW plus within 1SD of the Eating Disorder Examination (EDE) norms. Eating related obsessionality (Yale-Brown-Cornell Eating Disorder Total Scale) and eating disorder specific psychopathology (EDE-Global) emerged as moderators at EOT. Subjects with higher baseline scores on these measures benefited more from FBT than AFT. AN type emerged as a moderator at FU with binge-eating/purging type responding less well than restricting type. No mediators of treatment outcome were identified. Prior hospitalization, older age and duration of illness were identified as non-specific predictors of outcome. Taken together, these results indicate that patients with more severe eating related psychopathology have better outcomes in a behaviorally targeted family treatment (FBT) than an individually focused approach (AFT).
Anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are marked by longitudinal symptom fluctuations. DSM-IV-TR does not address how to classify eating disorder (ED) presentations in individuals who no longer meet full criteria for these disorders. To consider this issue, we examined subthreshold presentations in women with initial diagnoses of AN and BN.
A total of 246 women with AN or BN were followed for a median of 9 years; weekly symptom data were collected at frequent intervals using the Longitudinal Interval Follow-up Evaluation of Eating Disorders (LIFE-EAT-II). Outcomes were ED presentations that were subthreshold for ≥3 months, including those narrowly missing full criteria for AN or BN, along with binge eating disorder (BED) and purging disorder.
During follow-up, most women (77.6%) experienced a subthreshold presentation. Subthreshold presentation was related to intake diagnosis (Wald χ2 = 8.065, df = 2, p = 0.018). Individuals with AN most often developed subthreshold presentations resembling AN; those with BN were more likely to develop subthreshold BN. Purging disorder was experienced by half of those with BN and one-quarter of those with AN binge/purge type (ANBP); BED occurred in 20% with BN. Transition from AN or BN to most subthreshold types was associated with improved psychosocial functioning (p < 0.001).
Subthreshold presentations in women with lifetime AN and BN were common, resembled the initial diagnosis, and were associated with modest improvements in psychosocial functioning. For most with lifetime AN and BN, subthreshold presentations seem to represent part of the course of illness and to fit within the original AN or BN diagnosis.
Anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; classification; eating disorder not otherwise specified; longitudinal
Pharmacotherapy for anorexia nervosa is considered to be of limited efficacy. However, many studies suffer methodological limitations, and the utility of newer drugs in the treatment of anorexia has not been examined yet. Although there have been more fruitful investigations on the efficacy of medication in the management of bulimia nervosa, there are still many unresolved issues regarding the optimal management of partial remission during the acute treatment phase and the intensity and duration of pharmacotherapy to achieve optimal prophylaxis. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) control the binge urges in binge-eating disorder, but more trials are required to investigate the utility of SSRIs and other agents in maintenance treatment. We review the current status of psychopharmacotherapy for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder and evaluate the merits of newer agents in the treatment of these disorders.
In spite of the role of some psychosomatic factors as alexithymia, mood intolerance, and somatization in both pathogenesis and maintenance of anorexia nervosa (AN), few studies have investigated the prevalence of psychosomatic syndromes in AN. The aim of this study was to use the Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research (DCPR) to assess psychosomatic syndromes in AN and to evaluate if psychosomatic syndromes could identify subgroups of AN patients.
108 AN inpatients (76 AN restricting subtype, AN-R, and 32 AN binge-purging subtype, AN-BP) were consecutively recruited and psychosomatic syndromes were diagnosed with the Structured Interview for DCPR. Participants were asked to complete psychometric tests: Body Shape Questionnaire, Beck Depression Inventory, Eating Disorder Inventory–2, and Temperament and Character Inventory. Data were submitted to cluster analysis.
Illness denial (63%) and alexithymia (54.6%) resulted to be the most common syndromes in our sample. Cluster analysis identified three groups: moderate psychosomatic group (49%), somatization group (26%), and severe psychosomatic group (25%). The first group was mainly represented by AN-R patients reporting often only illness denial and alexithymia as DCPR syndromes. The second group showed more severe eating and depressive symptomatology and frequently DCPR syndromes of the somatization cluster. Thanatophobia DCPR syndrome was also represented in this group. The third group reported longer duration of illness and DCPR syndromes were highly represented; in particular, all patients were found to show the alexithymia DCPR syndrome.
These results highlight the need of a deep assessment of psychosomatic syndromes in AN. Psychosomatic syndromes correlated differently with both severity of eating symptomatology and duration of illness: therefore, DCPR could be effective to achieve tailored treatments.
Anorexia nervosa; Eating disorders; Psychosomatic syndromes; Illness denial; Alexithymia
To examine the epidemiology of anorexia nervosa in men, we screened Finnish male twins born in 1975–79.
Methods and Findings
Men (N = 2122) from FinnTwin16 birth cohorts were screened for lifetime eating disorders by a questionnaire. The screen positives (N = 18), their male co-twins (N = 10) and those with lifetime minimum BMI≤17.5 (N = 21) were administered the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV anorexia nervosa. The incidence rate of anorexia nervosa for the presumed peak age of risk (10–24y) was 15.7 per 100 000 person-years; its lifetime prevalence was 0.24%. All probands had recovered from eating disorders, but suffered from substantial psychiatric comorbidity, which also manifested in their co-twins. Additionally, male co-twins displayed significant dissatisfaction with body musculature, a male-specific feature of body dysmorphic disorder.
Anorexia nervosa in males in the community is more common, transient and accompanied by more substantial comorbidity than previously thought.
Eating disorders such as anorexia (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are characterized by abnormal eating behavior. The essential aspect of AN is that the individual refuses to maintain a minimal normal body weight. The main features of BN are binge eating and inappropriate compensatory methods to prevent weight gain. The gut-brain-adipose tissue (AT) peptides and neutralizing autoantibodies play an important role in the regulation of eating behavior and growth hormone release. The mechanisms for controlling food intake involve an interplay between gut, brain, and AT. Parasympathetic, sympathetic, and serotoninergic systems are required for communication between brain satiety centre, gut, and AT. These neuronal circuits include neuropeptides ghrelin, neuropeptide Y (NPY), peptide YY (PYY), cholecystokinin (CCK), leptin, putative anorexigen obestatin, monoamines dopamine, norepinephrine (NE), serotonin, and neutralizing autoantibodies. This extensive and detailed report reviews data that demonstrate that hunger-satiety signals play an important role in the pathogenesis of eating disorders. Neuroendocrine dysregulations of the AT-gut-brain axis peptides and neutralizing autoantibodies may result in AN and BN. The circulating autoantibodies can be purified and used as pharmacological tools in AN and BN. Further research is required to investigate the orexigenic/anorexigenic synthetic analogs and monoclonal antibodies for potential treatment of eating disorders in clinical practice.
Anorexia nervosa is a perplexing illness with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disease. In this paper, we review the genetic research on anorexia nervosa (AN). Family studies have demonstrated that anorexia nervosa is familial, and twin studies have indicated that additive genetic factors contribute to the familial aggregation. Molecular genetic research, including genomewide linkage and case control association studies, have not been successful in identifying DNA variants that are unequivocally involved in the etiology of AN. We provide a critical appraisal of these studies and discuss methodological issues that may be implicated in conflicting results. Furthermore, we discuss issues relevant to genetic research such as the importance of phenotypic refinement, the use of endophenotypes, and the implications for nosology and genetic analysis. Finally, the future of genetic research for AN is discussed in terms of genomewide association studies (GWAS) and the need for establishing large samples.
twin; linkage; molecular genetics; anorexia nervosa
Although it is thought that eating disorders result from the interplay of personal and sociocultural factors, a comprehensive model of eating disorders remains to be established. The aim of this study was to determine the extent to which the childhood factors and deficit in visuoperceptual ability contribute to eating disorders.
A total of 76 participants - 22 women with anorexia nervosa (AN), 28 women with bulimia nervosa (BN), and 26 healthy women of comparable age, IQ, and years of education - were examined. Neuropsychological tasks were applied to measure the visuoperceptual deficits, viz. the Rey-Osterrieth complex figure test and the group embedded figures test (GEFT). A questionnaire designed to obtain retrospective assessments of the childhood risk factors was administered to the participants.
The women with both AN and BN were less likely to report having supportive figures in their childhood and poor copy accuracy in the Rey-Osterrieth test. The women with AN were more likely to report premorbid anxiety, childhood emotional undereating and showed poor performances in the GEFT. In the final model, the factors independently contributing to the case status were less social support in childhood as a common factor for both AN and BN, and childhood emotional undereating and poor ability in the low-level visuospatial processing for AN.
Our results suggest the disturbance in the food-emotion relationship and the deficit in low-level visuospatial processing in people with AN. Lower social support appears to contribute to an increase in vulnerability to both AN and BN.
Childhood risk factors; Emotional eating; Visuospatial ability; Anorexia nervosa; Bulimia nervosa
Widespread media publicity has resulted in increased case findings of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. The etiology of these conditions is complex and multifactorial, and they may have devastating effects on physical and psychological health. Family physicians have an important role to play in recognizing, evaluating and managing eating disorders. Severe anorexics—those who have lost 25% or more of the average weight for their age and height—require specialist management, but milder forms respond to treatment which can be undertaken by an interested family physician. Most cases of uncomplicated bulimia can be treated successfully in a family practice setting.
Ample evidence suggests a rising incidence of anorexia nervosa and bulimia over the past few decades. Correspondingly, medical knowledge about the etiology, symptomatology and treatment of these eating disorders has increased. Often the front line health-care workers who treat these disorders, family physicians are in a key position for early detection and prevention of these eating disorders. An adequate understanding of relevant risk factors, symptoms and signs may allow the physician to prevent the onset of an eating disorder in some patients or to minimize the severity of the illness in others.
eating disorders; anorexia nervosa; bulimia
Individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) engage in relentless, restrictive eating and often become severely emaciated. Because there are no proven treatments, AN has high rates of relapse, chronicity, and death. Those with AN tend to have childhood temperament and personality traits, such as anxiety, obsessions, and perfectionism, which may reflect neurobiological risk factors for developing AN. Restricted eating may be a means of reducing negative mood caused by skewed interactions between serotonin aversive or inhibitory and dopamine reward systems. Brain imaging studies suggest altered eating is a consequence of dysregulated reward, and/or awareness of homeostatic needs, perhaps related to enhanced executive ability to inhibit incentive motivational drives. Understanding the neurobiology of this disorder is likely to be important for developing more effective treatments.
anorexia nervosa; eating disorders; dopamine; serotonin; fMRI; PET brain imaging
Increasing empirical evidence supports the validity of binge eating disorder (BED), a research diagnosis in the appendix of DSM-IV, and its inclusion as a distinct and formal diagnosis in the DSM-V. A pressing question regarding the specific criteria for BED diagnosis is whether, like bulimia nervosa (BN), it should be characterized by overvaluation of shape and weight. This study compared features of eating disorders in 436 treatment-seeking women comprising four groups: 195 BED participants who overvalue their shape/weight, 129 BED participants with subclinical levels of overvaluation, 61 BN participants, and 51 participants with sub-threshold BN. The BED clinical overvaluation group had significantly higher levels of specific eating disorder psychopathology than the three other groups which did not differ significantly from each other. Findings suggest that overvaluation of shape and weight should not be considered as a required criterion for BED because this would exclude a substantial proportion of BED patients with clinically significant problems. Rather, overvaluation of shape and weight warrants consideration either as a diagnostic specifier or as a dimensional severity rating as it provides important information about severity within BED.
shape and weight concerns; binge eating disorder; bulimia nervosa; obesity; body image
This analysis is a follow-up to an earlier investigation of 182 genes selected as likely candidate genetic variations conferring susceptibility to anorexia nervosa (AN). As those initial case-control results revealed no statistically significant differences in single nucleotide polymorphisms, herein we investigate alternative phenotypes associated with AN. In 1762 females using regression analyses we examined: (1) lowest illness-related attained body mass index; (2) age at menarche; (3) drive for thinness; (4) body dissatisfaction; (5) trait anxiety; (6) concern over mistakes; and (7) the anticipatory worry and pessimism vs. uninhibited optimism subscale of the harm avoidance scale. After controlling for multiple comparisons, no statistically significant results emerged. Although results must be viewed in the context of limitations of statistical power, the approach illustrates a means of potentially identifying genetic variants conferring susceptibility to AN because less complex phenotypes associated with AN are more proximal to the genotype and may be influenced by fewer genes.
covariates; eating disorders; association studies; personality; genetic