Many people are interested in what is being done to investigate and treat eating disorders. The following website provides information on the some of the latest developments in research into eating disorders:
UK Eating Disorders Charity 'B-eat' also lists current research projects, which you may be interested in participating in:
(updated June 2016)
A 2015 report commissioned by B-eat estimates more than 725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder. Whilst it is alarming that the number of people suffering from an eating disorder appears to be rising, the more common an illness becomes does mean that there is more access to funding and more interest in research.
If you are interested in what is currently being researched to help eating disorder suffers a good place to start is Beat www.b-eat.co.uk/research or the NHS Choices website which lists current clinical trials www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Eating-disorders
Listed below are just a few of the current research projects. If your family or the person you care for wants to participate in research please make sure that you read the study’s information sheet carefully and be aware that some people can find participating in research to be a triggering experience. The researchers should be happy to discuss any concerns you may have.
- Supporting Eating Disorder Recovery in young people
- Online Educational Tool for Parents / Caregivers of a Youth with an Eating Disorder
- Recovery from eating disorders: experiences of young people & families
- Charlotte's Helix
- The influence of oxytocin on anxiety and social processes in EDs
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Imaging in Anorexia Nervosa
YOUNG PEOPLE AND FAMILIES
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Eating Disorders Program.
Online Educational Tool for Parents / Caregivers of a Youth with an Eating Disorder
Dr Wendy Spettigue, Dr Mark Norris, Regional Eating Disorders Program
Eating disorder specialists have developed a new 'Maudsley' inspired free online resource for parents or caregivers of youth and children who may have an eating disorder. The purpose of the research is to understand if the online educational tool at www.canped.ca is helpful to parents/caregivers of a child who may have an eating disorder. Participants need to be parents or caregivers of a youth (9-18) years old who may have an eating disorder.
Contact: email@example.com visit the website www.canped.ca or phone (613) 737-7600 ext 3803 (UK parents/carers remember to check time difference and cost of call before using this number)
Regent's University London
Recovery from eating disorders: experiences of young people & families
Author: Pamela Castro, Nina Gotua, Dr Amy Harrison
The research aims to explore through interview the thoughts and experiences of young people who have recovered from an eating disorder, to better understand what helped and what their recovery experience has been like. We are also interested in the perspectives of families on the recovery process.
Participants must be aged 16-19, consider themselves to have recovered from an eating disorder, not have received inpatient treatment for the previous 6 months and to have maintained a safe and stable weight during that time period. With permission we would also like to interview family members who were a support to them in the recovery journey. Young people can still take part in the research if their families do not want to be interviewed.
Contact: Nina Gotua firstname.lastname@example.org or tel 07788857508
Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London
The influence of oxytocin on anxiety and social processes in EDs
Author: Jenni Leppanen, Dr Valentina Cardi, Prof Janet Treasure
Recent research indicates that social factors such as persistent negatively biased perception of social interaction, are key factors in the development of eating disorders. These social factors serve to maintain the eating disorder by isolating the individual and strengthening the eating disorder thoughts and behaviours. The neuropeptide oxytocin is commonly associated with attachment and increasing prosocial behaviour as well as reduced levels of stress and anxiety.
The research project is looking for female participants who have recovered from anorexia nervosa, and healthy female participants who are fluent in English, have no neurological or Cognitive impairments, and have no history of drug or alcohol abuse.
Kings College London
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Imaging in Anorexia Nervosa
Author: Dr Jessica McClelland et.al
Psychological treatments are effective for some but not all people with anorexia nervosa. Therefore, there is an ongoing need for the development of new treatments. There is growing evidence that suggest frontal areas of the brain play a role in the development and maintenance of anorexia nervosa. Stimulating these brain areas to improve their functioning is therefore believed to have the potential to reduce eating disorder symptoms. A technique that is capable of stimulating specific brain areas is repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) which involves delivery of magnetic waves to the brain by holding a coil to the skull.
Participants need to be right handed females and males over the age of 18 with a current diagnosis of anorexia nervosa or related disorder. Other conditions also apply.
Contact Dr Jessica McClelland email@example.com or tel 0207 848 0183
THE ROLE OF GENETICS
Affiliation: Charlotte's Helix, Kings College London, University of North Carolina
Charlotte's Helix is an international collaboration seeking to bring the AN25K genetics initiative to the UK, named after Charlotte Bevan.
Under the direction of Professor Cynthia Bulik, AN25K has the ambitious goal of collecting 25,000 DNA samples in order to study why some people are predisposed to an eating disorder. The goal of Charlotte's Helix is to add at least 1,000 UK DNA Samples to AN25K.
Genetic Research is rapidly changing the understanding of all kinds of conditions. Advances in psychiatry are particularly important as disability and mortality rates are high, and treatment options have been limited. Understanding anorexia nervosa will help us not only understand all eating disorders, but also how they are genetically related to other psychiatric disorders (like depression and anxiety disorders) as well as other medical conditions.
Charlotte's Helix has two roles:
1. fund raising to pay the expenses for collection and analysis of DNA and
2. recruiting patients and former patients for the study.
To take part participants donate a saliva sample and complete a questionnaire or short phone interview.
Radio 4 'All in the Mind' - Tuesday 10th June, 2014
Janet Treasurer, Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London, and a consultant at Maudsley Hospital, was interviewed about her latest research which involved Oxytocin.
Sometimes nicknamed the love hormone, Oxytocin is involved in reproductive behaviour, labour and breastfeeding, recently it has been found that it is also involved in a wide variety of social behaviours.
There was interest initially in humans and social behaviour, and moving on from that, psychiatric conditions where problems with social behaviour are key such as autism, social phobia, schizophrenia and eating disorders - anorexia suffers also have a problem with social behaviour.
The trial involved 'one off' studies to see whether on some of the simple tests of social functioning Oxytocin can produce any benefit. People with eating disorders are very sensitised to weight and shape issues and very sensitised to criticism. What they found was a single dose of oxytocin seems to moderate those biases towards these trends.
Clinical trials for Anorexia nervosa
See the NHS Choices website for a list of clinical trials that are relevant to Anorexia nervosa, some of which are recruiting. One example is 'Looking at the bright side: developing and testing a new intervention to target negative bias in people with eating disorders'