It is well known that there is an intimate relationship between emotional state and food intake - we choose chocolate over an apple when overworked and stressed and comfort food makes us feel better. A team of researchers, led by Lukas Van Oudenhove, at the University of Leuven, Belgium, has now imaged changes in the brain when healthy nonobese individuals experience sadness. The team found that administration of a fat solution to the stomach attenuated the behavioral and nerve cell responses to sad emotion. These data have clear implications for a wide range of disorders, including obesity, eating disorders, and depression. As noted by Giovanni Cizza and Kristina Rother, at The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, in an accompanying commentary, these data bring to mind the well-known phrase "We are what we eat".
A substantial number of people with eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa have a chronic course. They are severely underweight and have a high likelihood of dying from malnutrition. No treatment has been found that helps people who are chronically ill. Now, a new study sheds light on the reason that some people have poor outcome. An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) in La Jolla, CA, has identified possible genetic variations that could influence a patient's recovery from an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Their findings, reported online in the journal Neuropsychopharmcology, may provide new insights into development of effective interventions for the most treatment-resistant patients with these disorders.
Authorities in the field of food addiction at the University of Florida say new research indicates that overeating and obesity problems might be effectively tackled if people would limit their food choices. Editorializing in the August edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Nicole M. Avena, Ph.D., a research assistant professor, and Mark S. Gold, M.D., chairman of the UF College of Medicine's department of psychiatry, suggest modern living presents many delicious possibilities for people at mealtime - too many for people who respond to food as if it were an addictive drug. Their comments are in response to new research by scientists at the State University of New York at Buffalo that shows even obese people lose interest in and eat less of foods that they are repeatedly exposed to - a behavior known as habituation.
Individuals with an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia have a significantly higher risk of dying prematurely, compared to other people, UK researchers reported in Archives of General Psychiatry. Somebody with anorexia has a 5.8-times greater risk of dying early, compared to healthy individuals with no eating disorders. Bulimia doubles the risk of premature death. Patients diagnosed with anorexia in their 20s have 18 times the risk of death compared to healthy individuals of the same age. Why people with eating disorders may die early is not always clear, the authors stressed. We know that approximately 20% of all deaths among people with anorexia is from suicide. In the majority of cases, higher mortality rates are due to the effects the eating disorder has on the body over the long term.
As children become teenagers, it may be more challenging to regularly include them in family meals, but doing so is key to heading off such problems as eating disorders, obesity, and inadequate nutrition in adolescence, said Barbara Fiese, a University of Illinois professor of human development and family studies and director of the U of I's Family Resiliency Center. "The common belief is that teens don't want to be around their parents very much, and that teens are just too busy for regular meals with the family, " she said. "Parents may not be able to get their families together around the table seven days a week, but if they can schedule three family meals a week, they will safeguard their teens' health in significant ways." She advises family members to pull out their schedules and find out which nights they can commit to, then follow through and make family meals on those nights a priority.