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Milkshakes are medicine for anorexic teens in family-based outpatient therapy
Date:4/2/2009

NEW YORK (April 2, 2009) -- Getting your teenager to drink a chocolate milkshake isn't something most parents need to worry about. But this is just the approach used in one treatment for anorexia nervosa. Known as Behavioral Family Therapy, or the Maudsley Approach, parents are called up on to supervise the eating habits of their anorexic child, feeding them high-calorie meals like milkshakes and macaroni and cheese until they regain a healthy weight.

For the first time, the Maudsley Approach is being compared with a more established treatment known as Family Systems Therapy as part of an ongoing National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded treatment study at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and five other centers nationally. Both are outpatient therapies for adolescents, aged 12 to 18.

"Anorexia is a life-threatening condition. Treating it early is very important since it is during the teenage years that this disorder usually takes hold," says Dr. Katherine Halmi, founder of the Eating Disorders Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. "Traditionally, patients with anorexia have been treated in a hospital setting or through one-on-one outpatient therapy. While inpatient treatment is still appropriate in acute cases, we have increasingly seen the value of family-oriented outpatient therapy for adolescents."

The current study is designed to compare two different therapeutic approaches that involve the family -- one is a behavioral therapy initially focused on weight gain, and the other examines various underlying issues in the family dynamic.

In the Maudsley Approach, named after the hospital in London where it was developed in the 1980s, the anorexic teenager attends therapy sessions together with their parents and siblings. Parents work with the Maudsley therapist to develop ways in which they can monitor their child's intake,
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Contact: Eliza Whoriskey O'Neill
esw9002@nyp.org
914-682-6991
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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