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People with anorexia less likely to be blamed when biology, genetics explained
Date:1/11/2008

CHAPEL HILL People given a biological and genetics-based explanation for the causes of anorexia nervosa were less likely to blame people with anorexia for their illness than those given a sociocultural explanation, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study found.

This is a potentially important finding, said first author Michele A. Crisafulli, because it suggests that wider dissemination of information about the biological and genetic underpinnings of anorexia nervosa could help decrease the blame-based stigma that is associated with the disorder.

The study was published Jan. 9, 2008, in the online version of the International Journal of Eating Disorders. It will be published in the print version of the journal later.

Crisafulli conducted the experimental study as an undergraduate honors thesis project while she was a student at UNC. She is currently working toward a doctoral degree in clinical psychology at Boston University.

There is a lot of false information about anorexia nervosa disseminated in pop culture. This study suggests that even a nugget of accurate biological information can influence how health care professionals perceive the illness, said Dr. Cynthia M. Bulik, William and Jeanne Jordan Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders and Psychiatry, director of UNCs Eating Disorders Program and the studys senior author.

It opens up new horizons for accurate information campaigns to help the public understand that people with anorexia nervosa are not to blame for their illness and that biology plays a role, Bulik said.

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by the relentless pursuit to be thin and obsessive fears of being fat. Self-starvation, extreme weight loss and related medical complications that accompany the disorder can result in death. More people die from anorexia than from any other mental illness.

Anorexia nervosa is frequently perceived as something that is under the p
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Contact: Stephanie Crayton
scrayton@unch.unc.edu
919-966-2860
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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