Monday, May 21, 2012

The Unseen Battle of Eating Disorders


Last week there was a new study released on how the brains of women with eating disorders (anorexia and obesity) are different. This research showed that the reward circuits in the brain are sensitized in anorexic women and desensitized in obese women - a finding that suggests eating behavior is related to brain dopamine pathways involved in addictions.

Snag Films also posted a video this week on the unseen battle of eating disorders.

Brain circuitry is different for women with anorexia and obesity

Posted On: May 14, 2012

AURORA, Colo. (May 14, 2012) - Why does one person become anorexic and another obese? A study recently published by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher shows that reward circuits in the brain are sensitized in anorexic women and desensitized in obese women. The findings also suggest that eating behavior is related to brain dopamine pathways involved in addictions.

Guido Frank, MD, assistant professor director of the Developmental Brain Research Program at the CU School of Medicine and his colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain activity in 63 women who were either anorexic or obese. Scientists compared them to women considered "normal" weight. The participants were visually conditioned to associate certain shapes with either a sweet or a non-sweet solution and then received the taste solutions expectedly or unexpectedly. This task has been associated with brain dopamine function in the past.

The authors found that during these fMRI sessions, an unexpected sweet-tasting solution resulted in increased neural activation of reward systems in the anorexic patients and diminished activation in obese individuals. In rodents, food restriction and weight loss have been associated with greater dopamine-related reward responses in the brain.

"It is clear that in humans the brain's reward system helps to regulate food intake" said Frank. "The specific role of these networks in eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and, conversely, obesity, remains unclear."

Scientists agree that more research is needed in this area. The study was published in Neuropsychopharmacology.


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Shadows and Lies: The Unseen Battle of Eating Disorders 

Synopsis

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia have claimed many lives, as well as headlines, in the past two decades. About five percent of urban teenage girls are affected by eating disorders. Another twenty percent dabble in unsafe weight control practices. Dieting activity can start as early as fourth grade, with some girls as young as nine having serious problems. The emotional and psychological impacts of eating disorders are felt not only by these young women themselves, but by their families and loved ones as well. This powerful and honest documentary profiles four women who are working themselves free from the deadly grip of eating disorders, and from the overwhelming physical and psychological complications associated with these deadly diseases.

Film Credits

Director: Karen Pascal

Producer: Windborne Productions


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