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[ Eating Disorders May Impact Brain Function ]

Eating Disorders May Impact Brain Function

Bulimia nervosa is a severe eating disorder associated with episodic binge eating followed by extreme behaviors to avoid weight gain such as self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or excessive exercise. It is poorly understood how brain function may be involved in bulimia. A new study led by Guido Frank, MD, assistant professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and Director, Developmental Brain Research Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, studied the brain response to a dopamine related reward-learning task in bulimic and healthy women. Dopamine is an important brain chemical or neurotransmitter that helps regulate behavior such as learning and motivation. Frank found that bulimic women had weakened response in brain regions that are part of the reward circuitry.

Research Suggests That Clinical Symptoms Of Food Addiction Are Similar To Symptoms Of Drug Addiction

Research to be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, suggests that people can become dependent on highly palatable foods and engage in a compulsive pattern of consumption, similar to the behaviors we observe in drug addicts and those with alcoholism. Using a questionnaire originally developed by researchers at Yale University, a group of obese men and women were assessed according to the 7 symptoms recommended by the American Psychiatric Association to diagnose substance dependence (e.g., withdrawal, tolerance, continued use despite problems), with questions modified by replacing the word food for drugs within the questions. Based on their responses, individuals were classified as 'food addicts' or non-addicts, and then the two groups were compared in three areas relevant to conventional addiction disorders: clinical co-morbidities, psychological risk factors, and abnormal motivation for the addictive substance.

Women With Binge Eating Pay More Attention To Ugly Parts Of The Body

This German study found evidence that both binge eaters (BE) and nonbinge eaters (NBE) have a bias towards ugly body parts, which might explain overweight individuals' body dissatisfaction. More importantly they found that BE look at ugly body parts even longer and more often than NBE. In a study published in a recent issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics by a group of German investigators, a new characterization of women with binge eating disorder emerges. Body dissatisfaction is markedly increased in individuals with binge eating disorder (BED). Because body dissatisfaction is considerably higher in binge eaters (BE) compared to overweight nonbinge eaters (NBE), the Authors of this study hypothesized that BE would be characterized by increased visual attention to the most ugly body parts compared to NBE.

Gene Links To Anorexia Found

Scientists at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have identified both common and rare gene variants associated with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. In the largest genetic study of this psychiatric disorder, the researchers found intriguing clues to genes they are subjecting to further investigation, including genes active in neuronal signaling and in shaping interconnections among brain cells. Anorexia nervosa (AN) affects an estimated 9 in 1000 women in the United States. Patients have food refusal, weight loss, an irrational fear of weight gain even when emaciated, and distorted self-image of body weight and shape. Women are affected 10 times more frequently than men, with the disorder nearly always beginning during adolescence. AN has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders, and successful treatment is challenging.

Athletes Need Help With Eating Disorders, Says Psychiatrist

Eating disorders are a major problem for sportsmen and women, and are being overlooked, a psychiatrist has warned. Dr Alan Currie, a consultant psychiatrist and honorary clinical lecturer for the Assertive Outreach Team, Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Trust, who is also a former athlete, was speaking at the International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Brighton. He said athletes' attention to diet and weight can put them at risk of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. But these conditions are difficult to spot because sports people tend to be lean and, as with others who have eating disorders, they will try to disguise the problem. Even when an eating disorder is identified, sports people can find it hard to access help from mental health services - a stark contrast to the support they receive should they experience a physical injury, Dr Currie said.

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