Columbia Center for Eating Disorders Conducts Study on Anorexia in Teen Girls

Columbia Center for Eating Disorders Conducts Study on Anorexia in Teen Girls

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Columbia Center for Eating Disorders has launched a new research study on anorexia nervosa in teenage girls.


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Columbia Center for Eating Disorders has launched a new research study on anorexia nervosa in teenage girls. Anorexia is a complex eating disorder characterized by extreme weight loss. 

The study, called Longitudinal Assessment of Teens with Anorexia Nervosa, began April 2. Participants are teenage girls ages 14-18. Doctors leading the study are hoping to discover the causes of anorexia and how it progresses. Unlike other studies on anorexia, this one focuses on patients' decision-making processes about food.

“Very few studies have focused specifically on how patients with anorexia make decisions about food,” says Jonathan Posner, M.D., part of Columbia University Medical Center’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and director of the Posner Lab. Researchers will look at “What are the brain mechanisms that allow them to choose food A versus food B, to choose the low-calorie, low-fat food, versus the high-calorie food that people would typically find more appealing.”

Participants in the study undergo functional MRI, meaning doctors can actually see the brain making decisions. They are treated for the disorder while taking part in the study and monitored over a two-year period so doctors can see how their brains change over time.

“If we could understand which brain systems are really involved in the disorder at different time points, that could really let us know how to intervene at different time points,” Dr. Posner says.

Signs of anorexia include an increased focus on food, avoidance of food intake, and becoming increasingly concerned about body image. The primary treatment for the disorder is counseling.

Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the study is a joint venture between Dr. Posner and Joanna Steinglass, M.D., from the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders.

The study is still accepting girls ages 14-18 to participate. Parents who are interested in having their child participate in the study should inquire via the form below.


RELATED: Does My Child Have an Eating Disorder?


Main image: The Columbia Center for Eating Disorders' team
Courtesy Columbia Center for Eating Disorders

 

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