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Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious and often fatal illnesses that are associated with severe disturbances in people’s eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. Preoccupation with food, body weight, and shape may also signal an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not a lifestyle choice. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Learn more about eating disorders.

Featured Studies

Featured studies include only those currently recruiting participants. Studies with the most recent start date appear first.

Self-Control in Bulimia Nervosa

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: September 25, 2020
Location: New York, New York
Eligibility: Females, Ages 18–35, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

This study examines the influence of acute fasting and eating on self-control in adult females with and without bulimia nervosa (BN). Specifically, the study team is investigating whether differences in behavior and brain activation in response to computer tasks after fasting and after eating a meal could help to explain the symptoms of bulimia nervosa. Data will be collected using questionnaires and a technology called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: June 12, 2020
Locations: Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
Eligibility: Ages 15–99, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

The overarching intention of the Eating Disorder Genetics Initiative (EDGI) is to lay the foundation for all future genomic discovery in eating disorders--anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and binge-eating disorder (BED)--by exploring both genetic and behavioral factors. To do this, information will be collected from 4000 people who have provided DNA samples for the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative (ANGI) and the same information and DNA will be collected from an additional 16,000 people. The goal is to better understand eating disorders and how they relate to each other so that better treatments can be developed.

Parent Emotion Coaching for Anorexia Nervosa

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: June 8, 2020
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Eligibility: Ages 12–17, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Family based treatment (FBT) is the evidence based treatment for pediatric anorexia nervosa (AN), but 50% of adolescents do not respond and the consequences for non-response are dire (e.g., 11.5% mortality rate). Expressed emotion and parental warmth are significant mechanisms of treatment outcome in adolescents with AN, which are not explicitly targeted by FBT. The current proposal is a parent emotion coaching skills group designed to augment FBT in the treatment of pediatric AN by arming high expressed emotion families with the skills necessary to implement FBT and improve treatment outcomes (e.g., weight restoration).

Neurobiology of Bulimia Nervosa

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: February 24, 2020
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Eligibility: Females, Ages 18–35, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

This pilot study experimentally manipulates ovarian hormones to examine the direct impact of estrogen (E2) and progesterone (P4) on binge eating symptom burden and the behavioral reward response in women with bulimia nervosa (n=15). This is completed by taking medications that change ovarian hormone levels. This line of research could lead to the development of pharmacological interventions developed to target specific areas of the brain, brain receptors, or pathways identified to be involved in the mechanism underlying ovarian hormone change and binge eating.

Efficacy Trial of a Dissonance Based Eating Disorder Program

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: August 15, 2018
Location: Mount Vernon, Iowa
Eligibility: Females, Ages 15–34, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

The purpose of this clinical trial is to investigate whether symptoms of disordered eating change among participants who complete an intervention. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of three intervention conditions and will undergo assessments of symptoms before, after, and 2 months after each intervention. Investigators are evaluating which interventions are most effective in reducing eating disorder symptoms and disorder-related psychological and cardiac risk factors.

Adaptive Treatment for Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: September 1, 2017
Location: Stanford, California
Eligibility: Ages 12–18, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

The investigators are conducting a randomized controlled trial using an adaptive design for adolescents (ages 12-18) with anorexia nervosa to compare standard Family Based Treatment (FBT) to adaptive FBT with an Intensive Parental Coaching (IPC) component. If participants do not reach expected milestones by session 4 of treatment, participants may be randomized to receive additional IPC or continue treatment as usual with regular FBT.

Target Engagement of a Novel Dissonance-Based Treatment for DSM-5 Eating Disorders

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: July 10, 2017
Locations: Stanford, California; Eugene, Oregon
Eligibility: Females, Ages 18–34, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

Most people with an eating disorder (ED) do not receive good treatment. The investigators have developed a new brief group treatment that is supposed to work by reducing how much women with an ED value the impossible thinness standard promoted by the media and how much they value/crave binge foods. The investigators want to test whether the treatment actually changes those two mechanisms using brain scan data, which is more objective than completing questionnaires and even interviews.

In the first phase of the study (R61), the investigators will compare women in the treatment versus those on a wait-list. If the investigators can show that the treatment "works" (does what the investigators think it does) compared to no active treatment (women will be allowed to seek and receive outside help but investigators will not provide it until after the wait-list), investigators will conduct the second phase of study (R33),where they will randomly assign women with an ED to either the new treatment or to a group treatment that represents what many college mental health clinics provide to their clients with ED.

Reward Systems and Food Avoidance in Eating Disorders

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: November 30, 2016
Location: New York, New York
Eligibility: Females, Ages 12–18, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

The researchers plan to explore brain networks involved in emotion processing and learning using a brain scan and test meals. One core feature of Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is eating a small number of high-calorie or high-fat foods. By studying why individuals with AN are disgusted by food or other eating situations, the researchers will be able to understand more about the neurobiological pathways that lead to restricting food intake and food avoidance. This study also aims to find whether one of two short-term interventions (Interoceptive Exposure (IE); Family-Based Therapy (FBT)) affects connections in the brain and if the treatments affect food avoidance. IE is an intervention that helps reduce anxiety about eating. FBT is an intervention that motivates patients to eat through working with family to increase the value of eating and decrease the value of avoiding foods.

Neural Basis of Meal Related Interoceptive Dysfunction in Anorexia Nervosa

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: October 31, 2015
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Eligibility: Ages 18–55, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

This study aims to identify the brain regions responsible for encoding cardiorespiratory 'interoceptive' sensations and determine whether they are dysfunctional in individuals affected by eating disorders, anxiety, depression, or brain injury. By evaluating the same interoceptive sensations across different human illnesses, the investigators hope to provide convergent evidence resulting in identification of core underlying neural processes, and to discern relative contributions in each condition.