Eating Disorder Research
Results of several family and twin studies suggest that it is highly likely that anorexia and bulimia can run in families, and researchers are searching for genes that indicate susceptibility to these disorders.
Scientists who are researching eating disorders suspect that multiple genes may interact with environmental and other factors to increase the risk of developing these illnesses. Identification of these genes will permit the development of improved eating disorder treatment.
Other eating disorder research studies are investigating the neurobiology of emotional and social behaviors relevant to these conditions and the neuroscience of feeding behavior.
Scientists have learned that both appetite and energy expenditure are regulated by a highly complex network of nerve cells and molecular messengers called neuropeptides. These and future discoveries will provide potential targets for the development of new pharmacologic treatments for eating disorders.
Further insight is likely to come from studying the role of gonadal steroids. Their relevance to eating disorders is suggested by the apparent link between gender and eating disorders, their emergence at puberty or soon after, and the increased risk for eating disorders among girls with an early onset of menstruation.
Benefits of Participation in Eating Disorder Research TrialsIn order for most research on eating disorders to be conducted, volunteers are needed. People who join these studies have the first chance to benefit from treatments that have shown promise in earlier research. They also make an important contribution to medical science by helping healthcare providers learn more about eating disorders. Although research trials may pose some risks, researchers take careful steps to protect participants.