Eating Disorder Research 2019 Roundup

2019 was another year filled with interesting research on eating disorders. Here are a few of the studies Columbus Park found to be particularly interesting and impactful to our practice:



Timing of risk factors leading to the emergence of an eating disorder. Nearly half of the youth within the study showed that first the individual would feel pressure to be thin (or internalized the thin ideal), then showed negative perception of body and low body satisfaction, then completed unhealthy dieting, and finally demonstrated an onset of an eating disorder. Another 29 percent of the study had only one step in the sequence switched around. (Stice, Van Ryzin, 2019).


Dissonance-based group treatment is more effective than mindfulness-based treatment for eating disorders. Dissonance-based interventions include introducing ideas contrary to the thin ideal, such as teaching participants to reject the media’s portrayal of beauty. (Stice, Rohde, Shaw, & Gau, 2019).


Parents understand that recovering from an eating disorder is multidimensional, not just based on weight. Other domains demonstrated by the parents in the study include: weight restoration, symptom reduction, engagement in social and occupational activities, finding life meaningful, demonstrating cognitive flexibility and emotional well-being. (Accurso, Sim, Muhlhein, & Lebow, 2019).


We’re interested in middle-aged women with eating disorders, not just young women. This study discussed the impact of hormones on eating disorders on women nearing perimenopause and menopause. (Baker, Eisenlohr-Moul, Wu, Schiller, Bulik, & Girdler, 2019).


Cognitive rigidity and heightened attention to detail are characteristics that associate with the severity of eating pathology. This study looked at a sample size of 143 participants in an in-patient eating disorder program. (Wang, Gray, Cogniglio, Murray, Stone, Becker, Thomas, & Eddy, 2019).


Women dating men who watch porn show an increase in eating disorder symptoms. In this survey study, women may have felt pressured by the thin ideal portrayed in sex media. (Tylka, Calogero, 2019).


Self-compassion leads to lower levels of body dissatisfaction. The study, which surveyed high school students, concluded that those with greater levels of self-compassion are less at risk for eating disorders. (Pullmer, Coelho, & Zaitsoff, 2019).


Those with anorexia nervosa have a blunted response to fear – but not to sadness. This study watched the participants’ blink responses to film clips. (Brockmeyer, Pellegrino, Maier, Munch, Harmer, Walther, Herzog, & Friederich, 2019)


Adolescents with anxiety conditions at higher risk of engaging in fasting to control weight.  Fasting behavior is known to precede anorexia nervosa and is a common behavioral symptom of anorexia nervosa. In particular, anxiety disorders in mid-late adolescence predictive of fasting later on. (Lloyd, Haase, Zerwas, & Micali.  2019)