Habit Formation and Eating Disorders: The Sooner, The Better

A neuroscience study highlighted the role of habit formation in eating disorders — to which I say, “The sooner, the better!”

That’s my headline after reading a recent article in the New York Times titled, “Anorexia May Be Habit, Not Willpower, Study Finds.” The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, examined brain activity in individuals with severe anorexia nervosa. The authors found that when these individuals made food choices they engaged a particular part of their brain, called the dorsal striatum, more often than a healthy control group.  The dorsal striatum is known to be involved in the formation of habits.

This study adds to a growing body of neuroimaging research that points to the role of habit formation in eating disorders. It confirms what we see in practice: The longer people wait to get effective treatment for their eating disorder, the more entrenched eating habits become, and the harder they are to treat.

If your child has an eating disorder, get him /her into effective treatment now. The sooner, the better. Reach out to us today for help.