By: Katherine Schaumberg
April 18-21 marked the 25th annual International Conference on Eating Disorders. Highlights of this year’s conference included talks on how to reach more individuals in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders, including the Keynote address by Dr. Alan Kazdin, who discussed reducing the burdens of eating disorders by using the media, social networks, and other large-scale projects, along with plenary presentation that focused specifically on for developing community-based partnerships in eating disorder research and influencing policy.
Another highlight of the conference was a plenary session focused on our understanding of the microbiome in eating disorders (also see https://uncexchanges.org/2016/09/01/microbiome-a-new-direction-in-understanding-anorexia-nervosa/ and https://uncexchanges.org/2017/04/03/leaky-gut-a-potential-contributor-to-the-brain-gut-microbiota-axis/), which featured CEED director Dr. Cynthia Bulik. Speakers in this session noted how much is still unknown about the microbiome, and how understanding gut microbiota may lead to advances in treatment of eating disorders and an increased understanding of how gastrointestinal disorders and eating disorders may interact. For example, a study from CEED provides initial indication that diversity of gut microbiota is limited in patients who present with anorexia nervosa, and that it increases over the course of inpatient treatment (Kleiman et al., 2015). Next steps of this line of research include testing clinical applications that promote healthy gut microbiota as a component of treatment for eating disorders.
Other presenters from the CEED team included Dr. Zeynep Yilmaz, who spoke on a panel regarding moving the field forward through biological research, and Dr. Jessica Baker, who presented on the shared genetic association between anorexia nervosa and temperament. Leigh Brosof, a summer fellow at CEED in 2017, also presented a poster that highlighted work she completed last summer which identified a cross-disorder symptom network of obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorder symptoms in a large, epidemiological cohort of children from the UK.
Overall, this year’s ICED was lively, with spirited debates and passionate participation from individuals representing a range of backgrounds. Many individuals in recovery from an eating disorder shared their experiences and discussed how the research that was being presented fit or did not fit with their lived experience. Clinicians, researchers, advocates, and parents continued to engage in difficult dialogues in the service of moving the field forward, so that eating disorder prevention and treatment will ultimately be more effective.
Kleiman SC, Watson HJ, Bulik-Sullivan EC, Huh EY, Tarantino LM, Bulik CM, Carroll IM. The intestinal microbiota in acute anorexia nervosa and during renourishment: relationship to depression, anxiety, and eating disorder psychopathology. Psychosom Med. 2015;77(9):969-981. PMID:26428446