Eating Disorder Pediatric Research and Clinical Trials

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In addition to our clinical practice, Children’s researchers are actively involved in finding new ways to understand, treat and prevent anorexia nervosa:

Understanding

A study led by Children’s researchers has shown an interesting paradox: People with anorexia have high levels of fat within their bone marrow. If the body isn’t getting enough nutrients, stem cells (the special cells that can change into other types of cells, like fat cells or blood cells) found in the bone marrow develop into fat cells, rather than bone-forming cells. This may help explain one serious consequence of anorexia — early and severe osteoporosis, or bone weakening.

Treating

Another Children’s research initiative aims to find a way to prevent bone loss in teens and in healthy adults. Estrogen helps to maintain bone density in young adults with eating disorders. DHEA is a natural hormone that is also associated with preventing bone loss and strengthening bones. Through a combination of a low-dose estrogen therapy and DHEA, it may be possible to increase bone density.

Preventing

We all know that good nutritional habits and adequate exercise are key to staying healthy, but

less clearly understood is the way social and physical environments play into these goals. Children’s researchers are investigating how school and community settings affect adolescent nutrition, physical activity and risk of eating disorders — and are working to design and evaluate school- and community-based interventions and preventive measures that encourage healthy nutritional habits.

The Eating Disorders Program at Children's is actively involved in many other research projects aimed at providing a better understanding of adolescent eating disorders and developing new interventions. Our current projects include:

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