Thursday, November 23, 2006

Anorexia Study Volunteers Wanted

It seems appropriate on Thanksgiving Day to post about anorexia, a disease that's all about starvation in the face of plenty.

One of the most astonishing facts about the disease is that there's been very little research done on how to cure it. As in almost no studies. As in, anyone can call themselves an eating disorders therapist, and offer his or her own concoction of treatments, with predictable resuls.

If you've seen the movie THIN, you know what I mean.

There's only one way to make sure that compassionate, practical, and good treatments are developed--and that's with well-designed, controlled studies.

If you're a parent reading this because your daughter or son (yes, boys get anorexia too) is anorexic, you have the chance to enroll your child in one of the biggest studies that's ever been done on anorexia. It's being run by researchers at the University of Chicago, academic home of Dr. Daniel Le Grange, one of the leading practitioners of the Maudsley approach. The five-year study compares the Maudsley approach with another treatment approach. It's designed for teens ages 12 to 18 and their families, and involves either 24 or 32 treatment sessions over a year, with follow-ups down the road.

Treatment is FREE if your family is in the study. Of course you have to live within driving distance of Chicago.

For more info on the study, see, or call 773-834-5677, or email

I know it's hard for parents to make the choice to enroll a child in a study. I know you don't want your child to be a guinea pig. The great thing about this study is no matter which half your child gets randomized into, parents and families are involved with the treatment--which is a huge and important difference from most other treatments out there right now. To my mind that's crucial. I wouldn't post about the study if that weren't true.

I also like the fact that treatment is free if you're in the study. God knows most health insurers don't cover much (if any) treatment for anorexia. Ours certainly didn't. If you live in a state without mental health parity (as we do), you'll be stuck footing most of the treatment bills because insurers seem to consider treatments to be a frivolous luxury. They seem to think kids can somehow think themselves out of anorexia without all that expensive treatment.

If you're a parent of a child with anorexia, my heart goes out to you. You're not alone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Harriet,
It is surprising for me to see that we in Quebec, Canada are more equiped and aware about anorexia. A lot of information circuled since more than a decade, and the buzz is even higher in the last weeks, with articles on the cover page of the most popular daily newspaper. The second part of the documentary "La peau et les os" was released last month, etc. etc. Thanks to Dr Jean Wilkins who works on the problem for long.

A friend's daughter now 27 had this problem, still not cured. Information when she was 12 was probably scarce, I don't know. Information is the nerve of the war. When my daughter then 6, began to have signs, I consulted and we conditioned her. That lasted one year and a half. She is now 18 and healthy.

It seems that there is genetic traits for anorexia. I think it probable.

I give you this website: