Scientists report finding gene mutations connected to eating disorders

Scientists have discovered two gene mutations that they believe are associated with an increased risk of eating disorders.

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia often run in families, but these eating disorders are complex, and it has proved difficult  to identify the paths. But, using two families with very high incidences of eating disorders, scientists say they found rare mutations, one in each family, that were associated with the people who had the disorders.

The study suggests that mutations that decrease the activity of a protein that turns on the expression of other genes – called a transcription factor – increase the risk. That transcription factor is estrogen-related receptor alpha, or ESRRA.

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are debilitating and occur in 1% to 3% of women, less frequently among men. They are among the deadliest of psychiatric diseases. They are thought to occur as a result of a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors.

The scientists reported their results in Tuesday’s Journal of Clinical Investigation.

“It’s basically a matter of finding out what the people with the disorder share in common that people without the disease don’t have,” Michael Lutter, the senior author of the study and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa, said in a statement. One challenge, he said, is finding families large enough to provide “statistical power.”

Full story of gene mutations and eating disoders at the Los Angeles Times

Childhood Obesity Month: Chartwells helps students get healthy

It has been suggested that the United States has a weight problem. While many walk around sporting a spare tire, unable to fit into their fall clothes, the biggest concern must lie with children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and food service companies around the country are trying to educate students to make better choices.

“We help students identify healthful meal choices through signage and activities … that take place in the cafeteria,” said Brian Reynolds, Chartwells foodservice director at Wilton Public Schools. “School meals are well balanced, convenient and remain a great value for busy families. Our programs are based on strong nutritional guidelines, principles and cooking techniques using fresh, local and seasonal fruits and vegetables that are appealing to children.”

Currently, Wilton High School is featuring local produce during its farm-to-chef week, which puts ingredients from both student-grown gardens and those in the community into recipes.

Full story of childhood obesity month at Wilton Bulletin

Children And Substance Dependent Parents

“In a way, I wanted my mum to go back to prison, because she was clean (drug free) for a few weeks when she came out of prison.” ~ Child, (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction).

The children of parents with substance dependence and abuse problems suffer silently.

Substance-related problems are seldom short-lived. From the beginning of the problem through its progression men and women find they have become parents. This was likely not thought through. This situation is risky business for child development.

The children living in environments of drug or alcohol use and abuse are at risk. They are at risk physically, emotionally, psychologically, intellectually, socially, and long term problems are the rule, rather than the exception. Parents may have a wake-up call when Child Protective Services gets involved, when law enforcement comes on the scene, or when the child breaks the code of silence and decides to share his secret with others, who in turn tell someone else.

Its not that parents who are using substances are bad people. Parenting is a full time job and there is no time to check out and be in the numbed world substances provide.

Full story of substance dependent parents at PsychCentral

Teens who beat obesity at risk for eating disorders

Adolescents who were once overweight or obese are at high risk of developing an eating disorder, but receiving appropriate treatment is often delayed because of their weight history.

Teens who were once overweight or obese are at a significant risk of developing an eating disorder as they lose weight, but identification and treatment of the condition is often delayed because of their weight history, researchers say.

“For some reason we are just not thinking that these kids are at risk. We say, ‘Oh boy, you need to lose weight, and that’s hard for you because you’re obese,’ ” says Leslie Sim, clinical director of the eating disorders program at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and lead author of a case study report in October’s Pediatrics, published online today.

In the report, Sim and colleagues review two cases in which teens with a history of obesity developed severe, restrictive eating patterns in the process of losing weight. But indications of an eating disorder went unidentified and untreated by medical providers for as long as two years despite regular check-ups.

Full story of teens who beat obesity and eating disorders at USA Today

‘Fat Letters’ and the Childhood Obesity Debate (AUDIO)

Experts, parents split over schools’ role in weight screening

If their kids are frequently tardy, truant or failing to turn in homework, parents of U.S. schoolchildren expect to be notified. And in some districts, they might be contacted about yet another chronic problem:obesity.

The “fat letter” is the latest weapon in the war on childhood obesity, and it is raising hackles in some regions, and winning followers in others.

“Obesity is an epidemic in our country, and one that is compromising the health and life expectancy of our children. We must embrace any way possible to raise awareness of these concerns and to bring down the stigmas associated with obesity so that our children may grow to lead healthy adult lives,” said Michael Flaherty, a pediatric resident physician in the department of pediatrics at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass.

About 17 percent of U.S. teens and children are obese — three times the number in 1980, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And one in three is considered overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese puts kids at risk of developing serious health problems, such as heart disease. Too much weight can also affect joints, breathing, sleep, mood and energy levels, doctors say.

Full story of child obesity debate at WebMD

Eating Disorders: ‘Out Of Body Experience’ Treatment Could Be Used To Treat Anorexia

The eating disorder anorexia nervosa is linked to one of the highest suicide and fatality rates, so news of a possible treatment is welcome news. Research has shown that heartbeats can be used to trigger a strange “out-of-body” experience that may be helpful in the treatment of the disorder.

Volunteers were made to feel as if they inhabited an image of their own body two meters away from where they were actually standing.

The trick was to synchronize a flashing bright outline surrounding the virtual image with participants’ heartbeat, in real time.

This caused the volunteers to become strongly identified with their body double. Not only did the they perceive the image as “real” but they felt located in a different place, closer to the virtual body than the physical one.

Full story of treating anorexia with experience at the Huffington Post UK

Straight-Up Teen: Eating disorder

Eating Disorders Among Teens“You look fat!” “You are way too skinny!” “Why can’t you look like her?” “He is fit, why aren’t you?” These comments and many others just like them are so damaging to people, but especially teenagers who are still trying to find their place in this world.

In finding their place in the world, teens, today, are going to extreme measures to acquire a certain look. Most do not realize that the look they are seeking just does not exist. The current trends in modern technology could even make me look like a supermodel. Such technological tricks-of-the-trade such as Photoshop and airbrushing, market this “ideal look” with the promise that anyone can and should look like the model being portrayed. The problem is, that though the model, in the picture, is a real person, they do not look like that in real life.

There are many things teenagers do to gain that perfect look. Altering their diet is one of them. I believe it is safe to say that most people do not intend to have an eating disorder. Their intentions are to look a certain way. Usually they are trying to improve the way they look. A distorted view of their self-image and the attempt to control their diet turns into something they cannot handle. The next thing you know they are out of control.

Full story of teens eating disorders at Standard Journal

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin,

Ogden pediatrician: Childhood obesity serious

Childhood Obesity a Serious ProblemEvery day, Dr. Isabel Cristina Lau encounters children who are obese and living with its related problems.

The Ogden pediatrician said childhood obesity is common and serious and is leading children to be diagnosed with problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, acid reflux and stretch marks at earlier ages than ever before.

Lau and Ogden Regional Medical Center registered outpatient dietitian Jennifer James spoke about the issue recently during the Ogden Medical Surgical Society Conference. Although both said progress is being made with some changes, childhood obesity continues to increase.

“There are numerous diseases that I recognize when the patient is obese,” Lau said. “Every organ gets affected. One of the organs first affected is the skin. Patients at a young age start to have stretch marks on their abdomen.”

In addition, they can develop acanthosis nigricans, which is a dark coloration of the skin around the neck, underarm and groin, she said.

Full story of childhood obesity at the Standard Examiner

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin,

Sleep Deprived Teens More Likely To Eat Unhealthy Foods

Sleep Deprived Teens Eat Unhealthy FoodIt should come as no surprise that there are health-related consequences to being sleep deprived. But with American teens marked as the most sleep deprived in the world, it’s vital that we pay attention. A new study has found that those teens that are also the ones making eating unhealthy foods.

Researchers at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine used the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine a 1996 sample of 13,284 teenagers that were an average age of 16 at the time. They found that 18 percent of teens reported fewer than seven hours of sleep each night. These teens were also more likely to consume fast food two or more times per week and less likely to eat healthy food including fruits and vegetables.

“Not only do sleepy teens on average eat more food that’s bad for them, they also eat less food that is good for them,” Dr. Lauren Hale, associate professor of preventative medicine at the School of Medicine, said in a press release. “While we already know that sleep duration is associated with a range of health consequences, this study speaks to some of the mechanisms, i.e. nutrition, and decision making, through which health outcomes are affected.”

Full story of sleep deprived teens and foods at Medical Daily

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin,

Professionals In Recovery: When Your Therapist Has An Eating Disorder Too

Professionals With Eating Disorders TooIlene Fishman does not go out of her way to tell her patients about her past, but if they ask, she is honest with them: For 11 years the licensed clinical social worker, who specializes in treating eating disorders, was anorexic and bulimic herself.

“I was very, very sick,” Fishman, who works in private practice in New York and New Jersey, told The Huffington Post. By the time she turned 12, her problem developed into a full-blown illness. Fishman battled the disease while coming of age in the 1970s and 80s when treatments were scant and few people saw eating disorders as a real medical problem.

Now, Fishman sees her history as an asset to her patients, giving her insights into what she called the “dark, twisty aspects of eating disorder thinking” — insights that cannot be taught.

“It really gives me a depth of understanding,” she said. “Other therapists might be less comfortable with eating disorder behaviors, but I engaged in all of them myself. I’m not intimidated by them. [And] I’m not intimidated by really low weight … It’s all familiar to me, not only in my professional experience, but personally.”

Full story of professionals in recovery at Huffington Post

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin,