WEDNESDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- A lack of support following traumatic life events such as relationship problems, the loss of a loved one, abuse and sexual assault can trigger eating disorders, a small new study finds.
People with eating disorders said even changing schools or jobs could trigger eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, according to the University of Minnesota researchers.
The study included 26 women and one man aged 17 to 64 (the median age was 27) who had suffered from eating disorders for an average of 20 years and were receiving treatment from a specialist outpatient clinic.
Nine of the patients had anorexia, three had bulimia, one had both, and the other 14 had eating disorders that did not meet the diagnostic criteria for any one specific condition.
The researchers identified six main factors that triggered eating disorders in these patients. They included:
The study appears in the May issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.
"The aim of our study was to find out if there was any link between transitional events in family life and the onset of eating disorders," lead author Jerica Berge, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine and community health, said in a journal news release.
"Eating disorders are an important public health issue and knowing what causes them can help us to develop more effective treatment and support," she said.
The study findings confirm that eating disorders can be caused by major life changes and lack of support in dealing with those events.
"We hope that our findings will be of interest to parents as well as health professionals as they underline the need for greater awareness and support at times of change and stress," Berge said.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about eating disorders.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Nursing, news release, April 24, 2012
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