The School of Medicine at the University of Colorado explored this, using MRIs on 19 adolescent females who had been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, compared to 22 adolescent girls who had not.
The brain scans showed the females with anorexia “had larger left orbitofrontal, right insular, and bilateral temporal cortex gray matter.”
The orbitofrontal cortex tells the person when they’re full; it’s time to stop eating.
The insular is activated as we taste food; it’s related to the pleasantness of eating. Specifically, the right insular determines how we see our body, which may be why anorexia patients truly believe they’re overweight when, in reality, they’re underweight.
“While eating disorders are often triggered by the environment, there are most likely biological mechanisms that have to come together for an individual to develop an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa,” says Professor Guido Frank of the University of Colorado.
Anorexia Nervosa is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly, especially with this new knowledge that there’s a biological basis to the disease, which could open the door for more treatments and therapies.
Currently, the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) lists anorexia as the third most common illness among adolescents, with about 0.5-3.7% of all women experiencing it at one point or another.
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