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Is Anorexia a Disorder of the Mind or Metabolism?

New research suggests that the reason anorexia has been so difficult to treat is because the medical community has approached the disease as a mental illness rather than a physical one.

In the June issue of the Journal of Molecular Biology, Donard Dwyer argues that anorexia may be a disease that's more similar to diabetes than dementia,

Dwyer sees the disease, instead, as a condition similar to diabetes. Someone who becomes obese and is genetically susceptible will develop insulin resistance, which then becomes diabetes. An initial trigger - the obesity - is required, but once the patient has diabetes, you can't talk him or her out of the disease.

For anorexia, Dwyer said, the potential trigger is chronic undereating or dieting, and the messed-up molecular process could be any number of biological changes that happen during starvation.


The research should be encouraging to those who have suffered from an eating disorder or those who have loved ones who have suffered from an eating disorder, but more work needs to be done. The theory hasn't yet been tested on humans.

However, anorexic yeast, rejoice. Your suffering is over.

Anorexia May Be More Metabolic Than Mental [MSNBC]

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I don't really get this, or it seems like they are putting too much of a divide between mind and body. Just like any other compulsive behavior, such as addiction, significant neural changes occur in a person's brain. It's really dangerous thinking to believe that something is "just a matter of willpower", as if that has nothing to do with the brain and the body. Anorexic behavior will result in actual (not just make believe) changes in reward pathways in the brain and in metabolic pathways in the body. The metabolism slows and the person keeps reinforcing that not eating is rewarding. In that way it is a disease that is triggered by a behavior. This doesn't really seem like a breakthrough.