Is Anorexia Nervosa a Subtype of Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Is anorexia nervosa a subtype of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)? Well, probably not, but don’t click the close button just yet. In this post, I’ll explore the relationship between anorexia nervosa and BDD, and discuss how understanding this relationship might help us develop better treatments for both disorders. 

Despite the fact that there are obvious similarities between the disorders, studies exploring the relationship between BDD and AN are few and far between. In a recent paper, published in the Clinical Psychology Review, Andrea Hartmann and colleagues summarized the current state of knowledge in the field. The review compared clinical, personality, demographic, and treatment outcome features of AN and BDD. I’ll summarize the key points of the paper in this post.

(I will be focusing on the relationship between AN and BDD, as opposed to EDs and BDD, because that’s the scope of the review article.)

First, what is body Continue reading →

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 … Continue reading →

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 … Continue reading →

Symptoms in Anorexia: Cause or Consequence?

In 2009, Dr. Walter Kaye and colleagues published an article in the prestigious journal, Nature Neuroscience Reviews, titled “New insights into symptoms and neurocircuit function of anorexia nervosa”. [By anorexia nervosa, Kaye et al. limited themselves to restricting-type anorexics (AN-R), so some but not all findings may extend to bingeing-purging anorexics and bulimics] This review, which is lengthy and will take me a few posts to cover thoroughly, focuses on the “findings from pharmacological, behavioural and neuroimaging studies that contribute to the understanding of appetite regulation, reward, neurotransmitters and neurocircuits that are associated with AN.”

A striking feature of anorexia nervosa is the incredibly uniformity of traits and symptoms that patients experience, as well as the narrow range of onset. While the course of the illness varies from person to person, during the AN-R state, individuals exhibit very stereotypic presentation (and that, of course, may be due to malnutrition … Continue reading →

Does Too Much Exposure to Thin Models Cause Eating Disorders? Anorexia, Bulimia in Blind Women

As many of you already know, Vogue has recently banned models that are “too-thin” (and “too young”). It is a big step in the right direction, no, a huge step, and one deserving an applause, that’s according to an article on Cue a drop in the prevalence of eating disorders, right? The logic in most articles, whether implicit or explicit, seems to be: no more skinny models = no more girls aspiring to be like skinny models = no more eating disorders.

Health of models belonging to both genders has been a growing issue in the past, especially after the death of two models in 2006-2007 from what the doctors blame to their acute eating disorders. This important step by Vogue targets not just skinny models, but also the impact they have on the young minds of girls and boys by presenting an image of perfection that

Continue reading →

Etiology of Eating Disorders: A Model of "Empirical Structure"

Hello all, Saren here. I’m honored that Tetyana asked me to be her co-contributor to ScienceofEDs, and am looking forward to collaborating on the project. My interests and background tend more towards the clinical; I don’t have the neuroscience training that she does, so I hope to bring a slightly different perspective while remaining committed to the research focus of the site. I can be reached at saren[@]scienceofeds[.]org with any questions, critiques or suggestions – I’d love to hear from you!

For my first post, I’m going to focus on one of the basic areas that much of the recent ED research aims to address:


We hear a lot about how eating disorders are complex syndromes with multiple causes. Articles in the popular press run the gamut from asserting genetic risk factors to proclaiming that Facebook causes eating disorders. In addition, disordered eating practices and poor … Continue reading →