Diversions: Answering Your Questions! Part 1 (Scientist in the Lab)

Six month ago I made my first post on the Science of Eating Disorders blog. I want to say a huge big thank you to everyone who reads, “Likes”, shares, comments and subscribes! This has been one of the most (if not the most) rewarding thing I’ve ever done (for real). I’m really happy that I have wonderful contributors who blog about their own interests and share their insight. I’m really happy people comment when they disagree, find something confusing or suggest topics for future posts.

In the last half a year I’ve amassed a large collection of search terms have landed people on the Science of Eating Disorders blog. Most are unremarkable, some are funny, others are worrisome. Once in a while people ask questions. Questions that I want to answer, false beliefs I want to tackle, or simply share with others because they are just too funny (and serve as good starting points for a serious topic).

So, to take a break from doing a typical post, I want to answer some of the search queries that have …

Genetics: Friend or Foe in Ending Eating Disorder Stigma?

Refrigerator mothers or the idealization of thin models? Toxic families or toxins in our diets? Oh, if only determining the cause (because it has to be just one, right?) of eating disorders was that simple. All behaviour has a biological basis, a neurobiological correlate. The way our brains function—and the resulting behaviours — is due to complex interactions between our genome, epigenome, and the environment. Eating disorders do not have a single cause; we cannot put the blame solely on families, or thin models, vanity or genetics.

As a science grad student, I am interested in how non-scientists interpret scientific findings on mental disorders, particularly eating disorders. With respect to eating disorders, I am interested in how patients’ understanding of the science shapes the way they view themselves and their eating disorders, as well as how it shapes their treatment and recovery.

In a recent paper, Michele Easter wanted to find out just that; she wanted to know how patients with eating disorders view the increasing focus of genetics in eating disorders on ED stigma. She interviewed 50 women with a history …