Millions of people are affected by anorexia nervosa. Even more tragic, one in ten people with the disorder are killed by it. People with anorexia can suffer from body dysmorphia, malnutrition, obsessive food restrictions, and dangerously low body weight. While testing in humans would be unethical, researchers from Columbia University Medical Center have been conducting tests on mice to find the likely combination of factors that could lead to this devastating disorder. The researchers used the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) gene variant, which is found to be linked to anorexia, on adolescent mice and greatly reduced their calorie intake. In humans, they have found that a restrictive diet usually occurs first and then typically triggers the disorder. With the gene variant, the researchers added social isolation stress and this combination was found to produce anorexia-like behavior. However, just the gene variant or isolation alone was not enough to make any significant changes. They also produced these tests on adult mice and there were no alterations to their feeding behavior. This showed that there is no "anorexia causing gene," but that an adolescent individual with the genotype may be more at risk if encountered with the other factors as well.
These findings are extremely important because it gives us an advantage in fighting this disorder. Parents can be more aware of these factors and help guide their teens to better life choices and surroundings that can ultimately change their life paths for the better. Adolescents already go through so many changes in their lives and the media and fashion industry are adding more stressors with the pressure to have the perfect body.
original source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/308985.php