Recent research conducted by King's College London identifies a genetic variant for Anorexia Nervosa
This new and significant research supports ABC's view that eating disorders are caused by the complex interplay of biological, social and psychological factors.
‘This is the largest and most statistically powerful genetic study of anorexia nervosa ever conducted. We have analysed over 10 million genetic variations across the genome in 3,495 individuals with anorexia nervosa and 10,982 unaffected individuals’, said lead geneticist Dr Gerome Breen of King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience.
‘We identified one genetic variant associated with anorexia nervosa on chromosome 12, in a region previously shown to be associated with type 1 diabetes and autoimmune disorders,’ said lead investigator, Cynthia Bulik, PhD, FAED, founding director of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and a professor at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.
Click here to see the full report.
How can we improve primary care for young people and children with eating disorders?
The aim of this project is to find ways to improve the experiences for children and young people with an eating disorder when they visit the GP and to find ways in which the care provided in GP surgeries can be improved to better meet their needs.
Participants needed: if you are between the ages of 12 and 25 and have current or past experience of an eating disorder or an eating problem, or if you are someone such as a parent who cares for a child or young person who has or has had an eating disorder. Participants will be asked to take part in a short interview or online questionnaire (20-30 minutes). Please email Catherine at Catherine3.Phillips@uwe.ac.uk or click here for more information.
University College London is looking for female participants aged 18-40 who are struggling with Anorexia Nervosa to take part in a research project, investigating the effect of oxytocin on social abilities and awareness of the body in Anorexia Nervosa. Participants will be asked to take part in two separate testing sessions, a maximum 3 days apart, and the study hopes to better understand Anorexia Nervosa. Participants will not be identified in the results and will be paid £40 at the end of the study to thank them for their time. Please email Laura Crucianelli at email@example.com for more information.
ABC is working with the University of Bath on a 3 year PhD research study, beginning October 2016, focussing on addressing eating disorders and body disaffection in schools.
ABC considers education and research as fundamental to its work, and its charitable objects include providing preventative education and resourcing organisations working with people affected by eating disorders. The project will be critically examining the impact of school-based eating disorder and body confidence programmes. This will include investigating how messages derived from both informal (popular media, social media) and formal health approaches to eating disorders, weight, eating and the body enter schools and then influence both teaching and learning about the body.
The continuing rise in eating disorders and body disaffection amongst young people suggests that it is becoming increasingly important for schools to provide a safe environment to discuss eating disorders. Early prevention of these potentially fatal mental health conditions is vital, especially due to the multiple social and economic impacts of the disorders.
UK schools’ contemporary programmes aim to improve perceptions of body image, to raise awareness, develop media literacy and tackle the problem of eating disorders. Focusing solely on the individual, this approach unfortunately ignores the broader sociocultural conditions that can provoke body disaffection. According to the research supervisors, Dr Rich and Professor Fullagar, ‘such an approach fails to recognise the limitations of a young person’s individual agency in the context of competing messages about healthy bodies that circulate emotions of fear, morality, shame and disgust’. Issues such as power and control may also be very influential. Effectively, these programmes do not provide a complete explanation of the complex pressures that can lead to eating disorders.
‘There is an urgent need for programmes to move beyond a focus on the individual and of the perils of the media, to more sophisticated understandings of how the intersection of culture, trauma, injustice and distress are lived through young people’s bodies and eating practices. The notion of body image is too easily conflated with selfie-culture as some kind of self-preoccupation when what is needed is a better understanding of how body confidence feels, moves and is undermined (often in gendered ways).’
This research will promote extensive and lasting change to the mindsets of young people, through the application of strategies that deal with the ‘broader environment (popular culture, parents, health promotion, sport and arts as well as mental health services)’. Ultimately, school programmes need to unite students and teachers to successfully examine these issues from different perspectives, all of which are important for the prevention of eating disorders in schools.
This extract is reproduced under the Creative Commons License. For the full article please see The Conversation.
ABC's Research Study 2014
ABC conducted a professional research study into primary healthcare for eating disorders in 2014, prior to our November Change Campaign at the Houses of Parliament. The research attracted significant publicity, generating interviews with BBC Radio 4 for Women’s Hour, BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Scotland. Our research proved the anecdotal evidence from the thousands annually to our helplines that patients spend far too long waiting for treatment after GP referral, the majority at least over a month and many 4 months, 6 months and even 9 months. GPs are vital as they bear the brunt of the professional support during the wait and even after, providing vital medical monitoring to protect people’s hearts and minds from an ever-decreasing BMI and yet over a third of patients revealed that they were never offered any medical monitoring at all for their condition.
Over half of patients (51%) spent less than 10 minutes with their GP during their initial consultation.
More than half (55%) had to go back multiple times before getting a referral.
Once they’d been referred, 48% had to wait over a month before their treatment started.
The research also shows that the majority (63%) of patients don’t feel their GP offered suitable help or advice about their condition.
45% felt their GP wasn’t caring or understanding about their illness.
41% weren’t even referred to a specialist at all.
But the vast majority of patients (88%) say no advice was available to their support network.
There’s also concern that a third (33%) of respondents say no offer was made to monitor their physical health.
More than half (55%) say GPs didn’t offer any practical solutions to help deal with their condition.
Only 15% of respondents say their doctor suggested speaking to charities or support groups.
Only 18% of patients said their GP was knowledgeable about their condition, only 19% said they were pro-active and 22% said they were neither kind, caring, knowledgeable or proactive.
28% of patients felt like time-wasters, 31% felt reluctant to seek any further help and 51% didn’t feel they were ill enough.
Research was carried out by Vision Critical on behalf of Anorexia & Bulimia Care and cannot be reproduced without permission in writing.
ABC's New Online Course written for the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP)
As a result of this new research, ABC has written a new online course for the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). With a reach of over 90,000 primary health care professionals and with credits towards CPD and revalidation, this course establishes best practice for GPs in their care for patients. This is vital as waiting times for more specialist services are so long; because many patients prefer to rely only on their GP; and since many are deemed ineligible for further care and support. With only 46% of those surviving an eating disorder, and increasing prevalence, GPs are under increasing pressure to monitor and safeguard the physical health of these vulnerable patients and also deliver care, support and signposting for parents and partners. The course was examined and approved in two rounds of peer review through GP members of the Royal College, practicing in various parts of the UK and then by the RCGP’s Director of E-learning. This course will underpin all further training courses that ABC delivers to medical, educational, sporting and business organisations. It offers an accreditation beyond that conferred by the CPD Association.
ABC is often asked to help contribute towards research or documentaries about eating disorders and there are many that we believe are reputable and worthwhile. We consider carefully all requests of this nature and select only those we feel would be suitable and sensitively managed and therefore allow the researchers or programme makers to advertise their needs for participants here on this page.
Recent research studies we have supported or taken part in as an organisation include: the University of Glasgow, University of Surrey, University of Bath, and University of Birmingham.
For more information about ABC's current research projects or for details on how to collaborate, please email us here.
If you would like to request a participant for a school or university research study, please complete and return the request form available here.