Both Sides Now

Addressing BOTH Obesity and Eating Disorders

Obesity and eating disorders are a complex collection of diseases that get tied together through food, culture, and social pressures, with the potential to activate someone’s biological susceptibility to one of these conditions. The links are especially evident for adolescent girls, who face enormous social pressure regarding weight. A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides good data on targeted prevention for both sides of this problem set.

This randomized controlled study compared a health education approach to adapted interpersonal psychotherapy for adolescent girls at high risk for both adult obesity and eating disorders. They found that both approaches were similarly effective for improving weight status, anxiety, and depression. But after 12 months, the adapted interpersonal psychotherapy was superior for reducing objective binge eating.

As we noted yesterday, efforts to prompt concern and action to prevent obesity have potential for unintended consequences, especially for adolescent girls susceptible to eating disorders. Eating disorders are different from each other. Likewise, obesity is also a collection of very different diseases. Simplistic solutions can be terribly wrong.

Targeted approaches — as this study shows — have potential to work better and cause less harm.

Click here to read the study.

Both Sides Now, photograph © James Jordan / flickr

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