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21-06-2017 15:34

The guideline "Relapse Prevention Anorexia Nervosa" is now available in English. Its intend is to provide guidance in working with a relapse prevention plan to prevent or early detect r...

01-02-2017 10:44

Prof. dr. Annemarie van Elburg has been appointed as honorary member of the NAE for the many activities she has undertaken in her past two terms as chairman of the NAE. 07-06-2016 16:22

Personality traits and uncertainty as a predictor for eating disorders

2015-09-06 12:16:46

Invitation NCU Workshop: A Translational Approach to Eating Disorders - 8 October 2015


Eating disorders, especially anorexia nervosa (AN), are complex somatic/neuro-psychiatric disorders, as they are usually an interplay between biological, psycho-social and environmental factors (Treasure & Schmidt, 2013). Traditional research on eating disorder uses either a psychological approach and focuses on eating-disordered cognitions and behaviors, for example emotions in relationship to (not-) eating, or a biological approach: e.g. aimed at changes in hormones, temperature, and brain functioning related to (not-) eating. Although cognitive-behavioral treatments have shown fairly reasonable results for bulimia nervosa (BN), this picture becomes much bleaker when we turn the camera to AN, where there are no evidence based psychological interventions besides family therapy in youngsters. Many sufferers do not recover, and relapse rates are high (Keel & Brown, 2010).


In the last decade the perspective on eating disorders is shifting to a much more psycho-biologically integrated approach (Herpertz-Dahlmann, 2011). In fact, some researchers have proposed purely neurobiological models of eating disorders and others even suggest ED’s should be classified as brain disorders. Subsequently, there is an exponential growth of studies on brain network circuits in the field of eating disorders and our knowledge is steeply increasing. Strangely however, these results hardly ever reach clinical practice or result in new treatment methods and those professionals working with ED patients on a daily basis usually have no idea about potentially crucial brain-related processes in ED. For example, animal research highlights the importance of the reward system in food intake; and (imaging) studies with ED-patients have shown (albeit inconsistent) abnormalities in this area (Adan & Kaye, 2011). This may explain certain ED behaviors, such as food restriction or binges, linked with affective responses such as fear or control-issues, but it has not been translated into treatment.


Seeing that understanding and treating ED’s requires integration of neurobiological, psychological and clinical knowledge, future research should increasingly adopt this translational approach. We aim to take the next step in the development of a research network on ED that includes brain researchers, psychologists and ED professionals, who can develop translational ED models and – essential – test these models by combining their expertise and resources.


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