Brain Size May Yield Clues to Anorexia

powered by healthline

Average Ratings

Areas that control sense of fullness, perception of body size are unusually large, study finds

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Teens with anorexia nervosa have bigger brains than those without the eating disorder, a finding that suggests biology may play a larger role in the condition than realized.

Specifically, the teenage girls with anorexia had a larger insula, a part of the brain that is active when you taste food, and a larger orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain that tells you when to stop eating, said researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

"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," Dr. Guido Frank, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, said in a university news release.

Anorexia causes people to lose more weight than is considered healthy. Larger volume in the orbitofrontal cortex could be a trait that causes these people to stop before they've eaten enough, the study suggests. And the right insula, which integrates body perception, might contribute to the sense of being fat despite being underweight.

The small study included 19 teen girls with anorexia and 22 teen girls without the disorder who underwent MRI brain scans. The findings were published recently in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Frank said similar results in children with anorexia nervosa and in adults who had recovered from the disease raise the possibility that insula and orbitofrontal cortex brain size could increase a person's risk of developing an eating disorder. This study did not, however, prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the two.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about eating disorders.


-- Robert Preidt
Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Article from
Top of page
General Drug Tools
General Drug Tools view all tools
Tools for
Healthy Living
Tools for Healthy Living view all tools
Search Tools
Search Tools view all tools
Insurance Plan Tools
Insurance Plan Tools view all tools

What is a reference number?

When you register on this site, you are assigned a reference number. This number contains your profile information and helps UnitedHealthcare identify you when you come back to the site.

If you searched for a plan on this site in a previous session, you might already have a reference number. This number will contain any information you saved about plans and prescription drugs. To use that reference number, click on the "Change or view saved information" link below.

You can retrieve information from previous visits to this site, such as saved drug lists and Plan Selector information.