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Parental Involvement Key to Battling Bulimia
Date:9/4/2007

Study found twice the success rate when parents took part in therapy

TUESDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Parents can play a significant role in the treatment of teens with bulimia, a new study has found.

When parents were involved in a treatment program, the percentage of teens able to abstain from the eating disorder's binge-purge pattern after six months doubled.

"Families have often been seen as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. Families have been getting a bad rap, so traditional treatment often excludes parents," said study author Daniel le Grange, director of the University of Chicago's eating disorders program. "That's why this study is so important. It builds on work [that shows] no one cares or loves adolescents more than their parents. Parents' instinct is to take care of their kids, so why keep them at bay. We need to channel their energies."

The study, published in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, is the first randomized, controlled trial in the United States to look at treatment for teens with bulimia, le Grange said.

Some 1 percent to 2 percent of adolescents suffer from bulimia nervosa, characterized by a disabling pattern of gorging on food, then forcing oneself to vomit. Another 2 percent to 3 percent of teens have symptoms of bulimia, but fall short of a full diagnosis.

Health complications of the disorder can include electrolyte imbalances, gland swelling and loss of tooth enamel. Sufferers also often have other psychiatric conditions, including mood and anxiety disorders and substance abuse problems.

Treatment for teens with bulimia lags that for adults, and there's no established clinical practice for adolescents with the disorder, said le Grange, co-author of the book Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder.

Family-based therapy has shown promise in treating teens with the eating disorder anore
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