Treatment for anorexia nervosa appears to have improved outcome

May 23, 2006

A series of papers published today in European Eating Disorders Review finds:The lead researcher, Prof. Arthur Crisp, argues in defence of the concept that anorexia nervosa is rooted in a biologically based avoidance behaviour, driven by a phobia of normal adult body weight.

The seven papers, previously unpublished, derive from data collected between 1960-1995 by Prof. Crisp and a team of researchers based first at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School and subsequently at St. George's Hospital Medical School in London.

Anorexia and season of birth

Information about the first 980 patients on the St. George's database was compared with that on season of births in the general population. The population of anorectics born before 1964 showed a trough in their season of birth in February, and peaks in March/April and October. There was a similar peak for those born in 1964 and after.

One factor - the presence of maternal preoccupation and body weight and shape, and maintaining it at normal levels - was found to be significantly associated with this peak in births. A background of severe/moderate anorexia in the mother was also important.

Anorexia in males and females

751 females and 62 males with anorexia were studied. Compared with the general population, there was a much greater likelihood of anorexia in the mothers of both males and females with anorexia. Onset of illness was later in males, and earlier in non-White females, reflecting differences in growth rate and the close link between the disorder and puberty.

There were tendencies for laxative abuse to be more common among females, and for vegetarianism to be more common in males. A significant difference was found for males in veganism and alcohol abuse. Females were significantly more likely to hoard food.

Phobically driven avoidance of adult body weight

The majority of female teenagers want to weigh less than they do. By the age of 16, two-thirds of girls report feeling overweight, and have tried to diet. This can lead to wildly fluctuating daily calorie intake, which may spill over into 'dietary chaos' - including the extreme bingeing-vomiting pattern of bulimia nervosa.

In anorexia nervosa, however, there is sustained and severe calorie restriction. Prof. Crisp suggests that this single-minded rejection of food brings relief, in the absence of other psychological defences, from what has become overwhelming panic.

This panic results from problems experienced during the development of puberty, which have previously seemed insoluble. Only such panic-driven flight, he says, can overcome the powerful forces of natural growth that takes place in puberty.

He argues that anorexia nervosa is rooted in a biologically based avoidance behaviour driven by a phobia of normal body weight. The phobia, and its intensity, may be denied, but will be revealed if normal body weight is restored.

Without help, the avoidance behaviour may remain the only alternative to suicide. However, with treatment of the kind developed at St. George's Hospital** there is evidence that long term mortality from the condition is significantly reduced whilst full recovery is more common, including restored fecundity. Thus the population of about 70 recovered patients produced between them 115 healthy children.
-end-
* Provided during the period 1969-1995 at St George's Hospital.

** Patients at St. George's were assessed at four levels: behavioural, experiential, the 'no-longer existent maturational crisis', and individual and family psychological skills. A treatment programme tailor-made for each patient and family is then developed.

Notes to Editors:

1. Crisp, A et. al: Section 1: Seven Studies:2. Crisp, A et. al: Section2: In Defence of the Concept of Phobically Driven Avoidance of Adult Body Weight / Shape / Function as the Final Common Pathway to Anorexia Nervosa

3. European Eating Disorders Review is the Professional Journal of the Eating Disorders Association. European Eating Disorders Review publishes authoritative and accessible articles from all over the world, which review or report original research that has implications for the treatment and care of people with eating disorders and articles which report innovations and experience in the clinical management of eating disorders. The journal focuses on implications for best practice in diagnosis and treatment, (rather than on research methodology). The journal also provides a forum for discussion of the causes and prevention of eating disorders, and related health policy. The aims of the journal are to offer a channel of communication between researchers, practitioners, administrators and policymakers who need to report and understand developments in the field of eating disorders. European Eating Disorders Review can be accessed at: www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/erv

4. John Wiley & Sons Ltd., with its headquarters in Chichester, England, is the largest subsidiary of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., provides must-have content and services to customers worldwide. Its core businesses include scientific, technical, and medical journals, encyclopaedias, books, and online products and services; professional and consumer books and subscription services; and educational materials for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners. Wiley has publishing, marketing, and distribution centres in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbols JWa and JWb. Wiley's Internet site can be accessed at http://www.wiley.com Please contact Polly Young at John Wiley on +44 1243 770633 or pyoung@wiley.co.uk for the full article or to request an interview with the author of the study.

Wiley

Related Body Weight Articles from Brightsurf:

Weight gainers more likely to underestimate their true body size
People with obesity who gain weight have a tendency to perceive their own body size as smaller than it actually is compared to those who maintain a stable weight, according to new research following more than 2,000 people with obesity from the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study over 10 years.

Body weight has surprising, alarming impact on brain function
Amsterdam and Costa Mesa, CA, August 5, 2020 - As a person's weight goes up, all regions of the brain go down in activity and blood flow, according to a new brain imaging study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Brain insulin sensitivity determines body weight and fat distribution
Just where fat is deposited in the body and to what degree a person may benefit from a lifestyle intervention depends on how sensitive the brain is to insulin.

Examining association between childhood video game use, adolescent body weight
Researchers looked at whether there was a long-term association between using video games at an early age and later weight as a teenager, as well as what role behaviors such as physical activity, the regularity of bedtimes and consuming sugar-sweetened beverages might play.

Brain receptor that regulates body heat may also help accelerate weight loss
The brain mechanism that enables us to maintain a constant body temperature may also be the key to rapid weight loss, a new study finds.

Short-term study suggests vegan diet can boost gut microbes related to body weight, body composition and blood sugar control
New research presented at this year's Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain (Sept.

Increased body weight in adolescent boys linked with heart attack before 65
A study in nearly 1.7 million 18-year-old boys has found that higher body mass index (BMI) is linked with greater risk of a heart attack before 65 years of age.

Excess weight and body fat cause cardiovascular disease
In the first Mendelian randomization study to look at this, researchers have found evidence that excess weight and body fat cause a range of heart and blood vessel diseases (rather than just being associated with it).

New brain mechanisms regulating body weight
Researchers at University of Gothenburg, Sweden, clarify the link between the molecule interleukine-6 (IL-6) in the brain and obesity.

Excess body weight before 50 is associated with higher risk of dying from pancreatic cancer
Excess weight before age 50 may be more strongly associated with pancreatic cancer mortality risk than excess weight at older ages, according to results of a study presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2019, March 29-April 3.

Read More: Body Weight News and Body Weight Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.