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 24 November 2017

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News

Efficacy of existing treatment for eating disorders is questionable

Deaths as a result of eating disorders are a serious problem, and the efficacy of current treatments is questionable, according to a study published in the latest issue of the Lancet.

News image

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A team from Adelaide, Australia investigated predictors of outcome in patients with eating disorders and assessed the effects of available treatments over 5 years.

The researchers prospectively investigated patients who sought treatment in Adelaide. 95 patients with anorexia nervosa, 88 with bulimia nervosa, and 37 with eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) were included in the study.

Treatment did not affect outcome of any patients with eating disorders.
Lancet

Patients were divided into those who had, and had not, received treatment in specialist units and reached a safe body weight. Individuals were then further classified dependent on intensity of any treatment received.

Clinical symptoms, body-related attitudes, and psychosocial function were all assessed.

216 (98%) patients were available for follow-up after 5 years. Of these, 3 patients with anorexia nervosa and 2 with EDNOS died.

65 (74%) bulimic, 29 (78%) EDNOS, and 53 (56%) anorexic patients were found to have no diagnosable eating disorder.

A small proportion of patients in every group had poor Morgan-Russell-Hayward scores at outcome. Final outcome was predicted by extent and intensity, but not duration, of initial symptoms in patients with anorexia nervosa.

In bulimia patients, the outcome was predicted by initial body-related attitudes and impaired psychosocial functioning. The researchers were unable to predict EDNOS outcome.

Treatment was found not to affect outcome for any group.

Professor David I Ben-Tovim, of the Flinders Medical Centre, concluded, "Deaths in the study confirm the serious nature of eating disorders.

"However, our results suggest that the efficacy of existing interventions is questionable."

Lancet 2001; 357: 1254-7
26 April 2001

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