The Dreaming

Obesity & Eating Disorders, Speculation & Data

One of the most disappointing responses to the new guideline for obesity care in children and adolescents came from the Academy of Eating Disorders. Shortly after AAP published its evidence-based guideline for obesity care, the Academy for Eating Disorders issued a press release to criticize it. But their criticism used speculation rather than data to suggest that a guideline for obesity care might cause unintended harm to children at risk for eating disorders.

Yes, objectivity is difficult when concerns about obesity intersect with concerns about disordered eating. This is precisely why the publication of detailed plans for the EDIT Collaboration is good news. The publication is out now in Nutrition Research Reviews and we note that ConscienHealth’s Ted Kyle is among the co-authors.

An Ambitious Plan

Edit Collaboration Research PlanThe EDIT Collaboration’s goal is both simple and ambitious. This international group of researchers aims to use every scrap of reliable data available on the interaction of weight management and eating disorders. The intent is to find what factors might predict different outcomes. Natalie Lister and her co-authors explain:

“The EDIT studies explore risk factors and the interactions between them using individual-level data from international weight management trials. Combining all available data on eating disorder risk from weight management trials will allow sufficient sample size to interrogate our hypothesis: that individuals undertaking weight management interventions will vary in their eating disorder risk profile, on the basis of personal characteristics and intervention strategies available to them.”

As outlined in the diagram above, the EDIT Collaboration will undertake a series of five studies.

Strong Feelings and Reliable Facts

Feelings about this subject run very strong. Both eating disorders and obesity can have devastating effects on the health and the lives of young persons they affect.

But we need more than just strong feelings to make good decisions about care for each of these conditions. It’s not enough to bring only speculation about where problems might arise. We need data to inform good decisions. Thank goodness the EDIT Collaboration is sufficiently curious to seek it out.

Click here for the collaboration plan from Lister et al and here for further perspective on concerns about eating disorders and pediatric obesity.

The Dreaming, painting by Paul Gauguin / WikiArt

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March 15, 2023

One Response to “Obesity & Eating Disorders, Speculation & Data”

  1. March 15, 2023 at 6:06 pm, John Dixon said:

    Agree, the approach from ED groups has been driven by perceptions, beliefs and anecdotes. It needs sorting out as the issue keeps bubbling to the surface. Of course eating disorders are heterogeneous and binge eating disorder is strongly associated with obesity. Not surprisingly therefore is that effective weight management through bariatric surgery and pharmacotherapy are emerging as our most effective therapies of binge eating disorder. Weight stigma is a problem we must all understand and address.