The Role of Regular Eating and Self-Monitoring in the Treatment of Bulimia Nervosa: A Pilot Study of an Online Guided Self-Help CBT Program

Abstract: Background: Despite cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) being regarded as the first-line treatment option for bulimia nervosa (BN), barriers such as its time-consuming and expensive nature limit patient access. In order to broaden treatment availability and affordability, the efficacy and convenience of CBT could be improved through the use of online treatments and selective emphasis on its most ‘potent’ components of which behavioural techniques form the focus. Method: Twenty-six individuals with BN were enrolled in an online CBT-based self-help programme and 17 completed four weeks of regular eating and food-monitoring using the online Food Diary tool. Participants were contacted for a weekly check-in phone call and had their bulimic symptom severity assessed at five time points (baseline and weeks 1–4). Results: There was a significant decrease in the frequency of self-reported objective binge episodes, associated loss of control and objective binge days reported between pre- and post-treatment measures. Significant improvements were also observed in most subscales of the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire. Conclusion: This study provides encouraging preliminary evidence of the potential of behavioural techniques of online CBT in the treatment of BN. Online therapy with this focus is potentially a viable and practical form of treatment delivery in this illness group. These preliminary findings support the need for larger studies using control groups.

Are the Gut Bacteria Telling Us to Eat or Not to Eat? Reviewing the Role of Gut Microbiota in the Etiology, Disease Progression and Treatment of Eating Disorders

Abstract: Traditionally recognized as mental illnesses, eating disorders are increasingly appreciated to be biologically-driven. There is a growing body of literature that implicates a role of the gut microbiota in the etiology and progression of these conditions. Gut bacteria may act on the gut–brain axis to alter appetite control and brain function as part of the genesis of eating disorders. As the illnesses progress, extreme feeding patterns and psychological stress potentially feed back to the gut ecosystem that can further compromise physiological, cognitive, and social functioning. Given the established causality between dysbiosis and metabolic diseases, an altered gut microbial profile is likely to play a role in the co-morbidities of eating disorders with altered immune function, short-chain fatty acid production, and the gut barrier being the key mechanistic links. Understanding the role of the gut ecosystem in the pathophysiology of eating disorders will provide critical insights into improving current treatments and developing novel microbiome-based interventions that will benefit patients with eating disorders.

The assessment and treatment of unhealthy exercise in adolescents with anorexia nervosa: A Delphi study to synthesize clinical knowledge

Abstract: This study aimed to explore and synthesize expert clinical knowledge on defining and managing unhealthy exercise in adolescents with AN. The Delphi methodology was used. Clinicians (n = 25) considered experts in the treatment of AN in adolescents were recruited internationally to form the panel. The first round of the questionnaires was comprised of five open-ended questions regarding defining, assessing, and treating unhealthy exercise in adolescents with AN. Statements were derived from this data using content analysis, and included as Likert-based items in two subsequent rounds, in which panellists were required to rate their level of agreement for each item. All 25 respondents completed the three rounds of questionnaires. Consensus was achieved for 59.0% of the items included in the second and third round of questionnaires. Although consensus was not achieved, compulsive exercise was the preferred term for the panel when referring to unhealthy exercise in adolescents with AN. The panel clearly delineated features of unhealthy and healthy exercise, and endorsed a number of items considered important to assess for when evaluating exercise in this clinical population. A variety of treatment approaches and strategies reached consensus. Notably, for those who are medically stable and progressing toward recovery, the panel recommended initial exercise restriction practices and reintroducing healthy exercise behaviors, rather than exercise cessation practices. The current findings can serve as preliminary treatment guidelines. A unified approach to labeling and defining unhealthy exercise in the eating disorder literature and clinical settings is required to achieve further progress.