Research shows that recovery improves with family involvement
FRIDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- When a teenager has an eating disorder, it's not just the teen's problem. It's a family problem.
So, parents should join in on the treatment, a growing number of experts believe.
With parental involvement, "the outcome is likely to be improved," said Dr. Ovidio Bermudez, medical director of the eating disorders program at Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., and a member of the board of directors of the National Eating Disorders Association.
Nearly 10 million females and 1 million males in the United States have an eating disorder, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Federal government statistics show that more than 90 percent of them are females aged 12 to 25.
People with bulimia binge eat and then purge, whereas those with anorexia nervosa limit food and become dangerously thin because they believe they're too heavy when, in fact, they're not.
But the thinking about the causes of eating disorders and their treatment has come full circle, Bermudez said. Many years ago, experts blamed eating disorders on controlling mothers and distant fathers, among other theories. But today they generally concur that the disorders are not due to those factors.
"We know now that eating disorders are real illnesses, not lifestyle choices," Bermudez said. And parents can play a crucial role in recovery, Bermudez and others now believe.
In fact, researchers found that teens were more able to control their disordered eating when they had family support.
One study involving 80 teens with bulimia put about half in a treatment program that included family therapy and the others in more traditional psychotherapy. Six months later, the success rate for those given family therapy was twice as great as it was for the others.
About 40 percent
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