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Doctors and scientists conducting research on anorexia are focused on understanding and treating this eating disorder. Current areas of research include appetite control biology, hormones, genetics, and the brain. Scientists are also looking for ways to better treat anorexia, as well as preventing it from ever developing.

Anorexia Research: An Overview

Research on anorexia is contributing to advances in the understanding and treatment of the eating disorder.
Doctors and scientists involved with this research are focusing on a number of different areas, including the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions, medications, and the combination of these treatments, with the goal of improving outcomes for people with anorexia.
Researchers are also studying the impact of various factors on developing the condition, including:
  • Appetite control biology
  • Genetics
  • The brain
  • Hormones.

Research on Anorexia and Appetite Control Biology

Anorexia involves serious disturbances in eating behavior, such as an extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake, as well as feelings of distress or extreme concern about body shape or weight.
Researchers are investigating how and why initially voluntary behaviors, such as eating smaller amounts of food than usual, at some point move beyond the ability to control it in some people and develop into anorexia. Studies on the basic biology of appetite control and its alteration by prolonged starvation have uncovered enormous complexity, but in the end, have the potential to lead to new pharmacologic treatments for the condition.

Anorexia Research on Genetics

Several family and twin studies suggest that there is a strong chance that anorexia is passed down in families, and researchers are searching for genes that indicate a susceptibility to the eating disorder.
Scientists suspect that multiple genes may interact with environmental and other factors to increase the risk of developing anorexia. Identification of these "susceptibility genes" can help lead to the development of improved treatments.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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