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Australia Study aims to identify genes that may trigger anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorders

00:22  22 september  2020
00:22  22 september  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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It aims to identify hundreds of genes that influence a person's risk of developing an eating disorder . Professor Martin is the lead investigator in Australia. Anyone aged 13 years or over who has, at any point in their lives, experienced anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge - eating disorder is

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge - eating disorder are the most common eating disorders . Other eating disorders include rumination Be alert for eating patterns and beliefs that may signal unhealthy behavior, as well as peer pressure that may trigger eating disorders .

a woman standing in a room: Brisbane woman Lexi Crouch was first affected by anorexia nervosa in primary school. (ABC News: Elizabeth Pickering) © Provided by ABC News Brisbane woman Lexi Crouch was first affected by anorexia nervosa in primary school. (ABC News: Elizabeth Pickering)

During one of her first hospital stints Lexi Crouch had a shocking realisation — she had to eat, but she couldn't bring herself to.

"Knowing that to leave hospital and to get better I had to eat, but just couldn't," she said.

"I knew that this was something inside of me that was beyond my control."

Anorexia nervosa had a deep grip on her, one that she couldn't shake for 15 years.

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articles on eating disorders and weight-related problems: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, subthreshold eating disorders , obesity, atypical patterns of eating behaviour Official journal of the Italian Society for the Study of Eating Disorders (SISDCA) and of the Italian Society of Obesity (SIO).

Researchers explore whether genes and early eating habits may trigger disordered eating . Researchers are trying to identify the role genetics and early eating habits play in conditions such as Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and such conditions cost the UK

The Brisbane woman was hospitalised more than 25 times, couldn't complete high school and was sometimes so weak she was unable to walk.

The 32-year-old's illness started when she was in primary school.

"I experienced bullying when I was seven years old, for my weight at that time, which started to trigger an obsession with food, weight and shape, leading to a diagnosis of an eating disorder when I was 13 years old," Ms Crouch said.

She was also a very nervous child, had an ordered personality and a family propensity for issues with food.

"I always say that the comment that I received from bullying may have just been one trigger, but perhaps there was a predisposition or indication that I always had that behaviour embedded in me to go down the track of eating disorders," she said.

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Binge - eating disorder is a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large When you have binge - eating disorder , you may be embarrassed about overeating and vow to stop. Bipolar disorder with comorbid binge eating history: A genome -wide association study

Eating disorders are life-threatening conditions that are challenging to address; however, the primary care setting provides an important opportunity for In addition to the role of environmental triggers and societal expectations of body size and shape, research has suggested that genes and discrete

"It isn't a life choice eating disorders, it could be down to the core of genetics and many other factors that make it up."

Her path through conventional medical treatments was arduous, but with a focus on yoga and nutritional medicine, Ms Crouch has now recovered and recently completed tertiary studies to become a clinical nutritionist.

She is enthusiastic about research which seeks to answer the genetic mysteries of eating disorders.

"It would really start to break away the stigma, there is a lot of shame that can be with eating disorders and you are very much put into this box and you feel quite helpless in the midst of it thinking 'that's why can't I change', thinking that 'this is something that is so embedded into me'," she said.

An unexpected finding

A preliminary genetic study into anorexia nervosa published in 2019 yielded some surprising results

Researchers identified eight genes influencing the illness.

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binge eating disorder (BED) – when you regularly lose control of your eating, eat Warning signs of an eating disorder in someone else. It can often be very difficult to identify that a loved It may also involve working through a guided self-help programme if you have bulimia or binge eating disorder .

Binge eating disorder is believed to be one of the most common eating disorders , especially in the Individuals with this disorder have symptoms similar to those of bulimia or the binge eating People with binge eating disorder often have overweight or obesity. This may increase their risk of

Geneticist and head of the Genetic Epidemiology Research Group at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Professor Nick Martin, said half were psychiatric genes and the others were metabolic.

"And those were genes that influenced both known psychiatric pathways, but also, rather surprisingly to us, metabolic pathways and that's something we hadn't expected before," he said.

"We thought it was just going to be straight up and down psychiatry but it seems to be more than that.

"This is the only mental disorder where this has been found so far, all the others just look straight up and down psychiatric genes expressed in the brain."

It paved the way for a much larger study — the Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI) — which will investigate anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

It aims to identify hundreds of genes that influence a person's risk of developing an eating disorder.

Professor Martin is the lead investigator in Australia.

"By identifying the genes it will lead us to understand the neurochemical pathways and by understanding those, pharmaceuticals can be designed, or perhaps they already exist that will target those pathways and provide much better treatment," he said.

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It aims to improve the care people receive by detailing the most effective treatments for anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and bulimia If an eating disorder is suspected after an initial assessment, refer immediately to a community-based, age-appropriate eating disorder service for

Binge eating disorder involves times of uncontrolled eating, which then leads to unhappiness. A person may do it because they feel depressed or This is not a sign of binge eating disorder . Binge eating becomes a disorder when it occurs regularly, and the person starts to feel shame and a desire

"All we have at the moment to treat these is just general antidepressants which work for some people but often they don't.

"We need to be much more targeted and we can be, making use of genetic information."

Exposing the genes could also lead to early intervention.

"By knowing what these genes are, just from a DNA sample, we can predict people who will be at high risk and those people can be monitored to look for early signs of worrying behaviour," Professor Martin said.

The study has another important benefit.

"It's bringing to public attention the fact that genetic factors are very important in these things and that's also valuable, in that, for many people they find that that actually alleviates guilt, alleviates their own sense of stigma."

Recruits needed for study

The international EDGI study aims to enrol more than 100,000 people worldwide, with more than 3,500 volunteers from Australia.

Anyone aged 13 years or over who has, at any point in their lives, experienced anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge-eating disorder is urged to take part in the potentially life-saving study by filling out a questionnaire and providing a saliva sample.

"All we ask is for you to go to the website, answer a few questions and agree to give us a saliva sample. We'll then post you a tube and you spit in a tube and post it back to us," Professor Martin said.

"It won't cost you a thing, it'll take about five minutes of time."


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