Evaluating disorders of gut-brain interaction in eating disorders

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Authors: Camilla A Wiklund, Marianna Rania, Ralf Kuja-Halkola, Laura M Thornton, Cynthia M Bulik

Journal: International Journal of Eating Disorders

Main research question addressed: To document the frequency of DGBI (disorders of gut-brain interaction) across anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and multiple eating disorders compared to individuals without an eating disorder. Furthermore, researchers examined the impact of specific disordered eating behaviors on the risk of developing problems in specific DGBI categories. Lastly, they explored whether DGBI were more frequent in those with more versus fewer ED symptoms.

Participants: Participants were individuals who participated in the Binge Eating Genetics Initiative-Sweden project (BEGIN-SE) which included 765 individuals with an eating disorder history and 1240 controls with no history of an eating disorder.

Results: DGBI were stratified into 6 categories including functional esophageal disorders, functional gastroduodenal disorders, functional bowel disorders, functional abdominal pain syndrome, functional gallbladder and sphincter of Oddi, and functional anorectal disorders. Between 34.8% and 48.7% of individuals in the eating disorder groups reported experiencing DGBIs from three or more categories compared with 9.1% of individuals in the control group. Individuals with more current eating disorder behaviors reported more DGBIs than those with fewer symptoms (α< .001).

Conclusions: DGBIs are significantly more frequent in individuals with eating disorders than controls and are increasingly common with a greater number of eating disorder symptoms. Longitudinal data are needed to study the temporal affects of eating disorder symptoms and DGBI.

Clinical implications: It is important for clinicians to screen and appropriately treat DGBI symptoms in individuals with eating disorders.

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