Eating disorders and obesity: two sides of the same coin? [editorial]

Jemma Day, Andrew Ternouth, David A Collier
Epidemiologia e Psichiatria Sociale  
The eating disorders anorexia and bulimia nervosa have traditionally been regarded as entirely separate from obesity. Eating disorders have been regarded as Western culture-bound syndromes, arising in societies with excessive emphasis on weight, shape and appearance, and best treated by psychological therapies, in particular cognitive behavioural therapy or family-based interventions. In contrast, obesity has been considered a medical illness with metabolic and genetic origins, and thought to
more » ... best treated by mainstream medicine, involving dietary, drug or surgical treatment. We believe that this polarisation is fundamentally flawed, and research and treatment of both types of disorder would be better served by greater appreciation of the psychosocial components of obesity and the biological and genetic components of eating disorders. There are similarities in phenotype (such as excessive attempts at weight control, binge eating behaviours) and in risk factors (such as low self-esteem, external locus of control, childhood abuse and neglect, dieting, media exposure, body image dissatisfaction, weight-related teasing and shared susceptibility genes). One example of shared genetic risk is the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF) gene, in which the valine allele of the Val66Met amino acid polymorphism predisposes to obesity, whereas the methionine allele predisposes to eating disorders. Thus the evidence suggests that these disorders will have both shared and distinct susceptibility factors; some will predispose to both types of disorder, some will push in opposite directions, and some will separate them.
pmid:19526739 fatcat:4juen2dwjnd63fazdmcmpaom5i