Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anorexia Nervosa: More Common And Transient Than Previously Thought

Date:
August 3, 2007
Source:
University of Helsinki
Summary:
Anorexia nervosa is a disorder with a grim reputation -- even experts say that it is often devastatingly chronic and carries high mortality rates. However, the first nationwide outcome study, recently conducted in Finland, uncovers a completely different side to anorexia: It is common, often severe, but highly transient illness. Up to 70 percent of women with anorexia recover before age 30.

Anorexia nervosa is a disorder with a grim reputation. Even experts say that anorexia is often devastatingly chronic and carries high mortality rates. However, these views are highly biased. A study recently conducted in Finland among young women uncovers a completely different side to anorexia.

In the first nationwide outcome study anorexia of conducted to date, anorexia is a common, often severe, but highly transient illness. Its outcome is generally good: up to 70% of women with anorexia recover before age 30 according to collaborating scientist at Columbia University and University of Helsinki, Finland.

Anorexia is common but often overlooked

In the Finnish study, 2.2% of Finnish young women suffered from severe anorexia nervosa. When milder forms of self-starvation and obsessive anxiety about weight and shape were included, up to 5% of women suffered from anorexic symptoms during their lifetime. Anorexic symptoms usually started between ages 10 and 25; the peak of illness onset was between ages 15 and 19. Although Finland has an excellent taxpayer-funded healthcare system that covers everyone, only half of women with anorexia nervosa were recognized by healthcare professionals. Even fewer received any typeof treatment for their symptoms.

Seven out of ten women with anorexia recover

By age 30, up to 70% of women with anorexia had recovered from their illness. On average, the duration of anorexia was three years; about 25% recovered within a year, about 33% within 2 years, and about 67% within 5 years from the onset of their symptoms.

Recovery from anorexia was usually slow and gradual. First, lost weight was regained and menstruation resumed. Attitudes about body shape and weight took a much longer time to resolve. The Finnish study was conducted among pairs of female twins. Twins with anorexia nervosa were compared to their healthy co-twins and to healthy women from the general population. Within five years from weight restoration, women with anorexia nervosa were virtually indistinguishable from their healthy co-twins in terms of psychological symptoms and self-esteem. However, learning to deal with body shape and weight related concerns took usually much longer, 5-10 years.

"Will I be able to marry, have children, work, and have a normal life?"

Women in the acute starvation phase of anorexia were less likely to date, live in long-term relationships, and marry than their healthy co-twins and other healthy women. However, women who had recovered from anorexia nervosa were just as likely to date, have sexual relationships, marry, and have children than healthy women. Women recovering from anorexia were also as likely to continue their studies and to find steady employment than healthy women.

The study was conducted as a collaboration of the the Departments of Psychiatry and Public Health, University of Helsinki, Finland, and Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. The study comprised almost 3000 participants: virtually all female twins born in Finland in 1975-79.

The study is reported in detail in American Journal of Psychiatry (issue Aug 1st, 2007).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Helsinki. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Helsinki. "Anorexia Nervosa: More Common And Transient Than Previously Thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070801091258.htm>.
University of Helsinki. (2007, August 3). Anorexia Nervosa: More Common And Transient Than Previously Thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070801091258.htm
University of Helsinki. "Anorexia Nervosa: More Common And Transient Than Previously Thought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070801091258.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins