Eating disorders and depression linked

girl alone

Depressed adolescent girls are two times more likely to begin binge eating as girls who are not depressed according to a US-wide study. Researchers also report that girls who regularly binge-eat are twice as likely to develop symptoms of depression. This indicates that adolescent girls who show signs of either should be screened for both.

“Binge eating prevention initiatives should consider the role of depressive symptoms, and incorporate suggestions for dealing with negative emotions,” according to senior author Alison Field, ScD, an epidemiologist at Harvard medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. Their findings, published in Journal of Adolescent Health, could provide new opportunities to address the nation’s obesity epidemic.

This is the largest study of depression and binge eating during adolescence, the time when most eating disorders arise. Binge eating was defined as out of control eating. The study differentiated “over eaters” as those who felt in control while consuming mass quantities of food.

“The most common approach to obesity has been to focus on eating better and exercising more, but many pathways can lead to being overweight. There is a group of people where it may be more psychologically driven. Targeting some of these psychological factors might help prevent obesity. Binge eaters or overeaters can be very secretive, so parents may be unaware that there’s a problem. That’s a really important message for clinicians. If they have patients who are depressed, they need to ask about disordered eating patterns and vice versa,” said Marian Tanofsky-Kraff, PhD, clinical psychologist at the Uniformed Services University of Health Science in Maryland.

Source: Adolescent Health, MedicalNewsToday


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