Similar to last year, I will be taking a blogging vacation this summer. I'll return in the fall, but will still be reading and responding to emails from you. Plus, you never know--if I see something particularly juicy, I might be compelled to post. Happy summer, everyone!
For now, I'll leave you with some updates regarding e.d. research, as reported by the American Psychological Association:
1) A DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) eating disorders work group has been meeting to determine if new eating disorder diagnoses should be created (for the manual's next revision) and/or if those categories that exist already should have more flexibility (e.g., allowing a woman who hasn't lost her period to still be diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa). The group is also exploring the diagnosis EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified), with the idea that since 60-65% of e.d. diagnoses land in this category, other, more structured, diagnoses may need to be included.
2) Researchers at The University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill are hard at work studying the genetic components of e.d.'s, looking at over 4,000 females in 13 different countries with anorexia. This study is set to be the largest genomewide study for anorexia to date. The more we understand about the biology of the illness, the more we can offer regarding biological interventions.
3) A recent study at Columbia University suggests that women with bulimia, as measured by fMRIs, show less activity in brain areas associated with self-regulation and impulse control. These results indicate that controlling a binge is not a simple act of exercising will-power; neurological deficits may be to blame.
4) Research is attending more to men with e.d.'s, particularly those who struggle with muscle dysmorphia, a condition in which males become preoccupied with muscle size. The disorder is associated with strict dieting, poor body image, and higher rates of other psychological conditions.
5) In a 2005 study, University of California Davis researchers studied the effects of a standard diet/exercise protocol versus a "Health at Any Size" condition (think intuitive eating, participating in enjoyable physical activity) in 78 obese chronic dieters. Results showed that after six months, both groups demonstrated health and psychological improvements, but only the diet group had dropped pounds.
At a two-year follow-up, however, the "Health at Any Size" participants remained at their pre-study weight and showed increased self-esteem, decreased depression and e.d. behaviors, and improved physical functioning (lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels). The diet group, however, had regained most of the weight they lost, but more important, had lost the health improvements they had previously achieved. They also experienced reduced self-esteem. The study reiterates what most of the literature suggests--diets typically result in weight restoration (if not more) and are often accompanied by pronounced feelings of failure.