University Researchers Develop New Therapy for Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa, a disease first  described in 1979, involves binge eating and the purging of consumed calories by vomiting or the use of laxatives. According to the U.S. government, there are an estimated half million people suffering from bulimia in the United States and about 90 percent are thought to be women. Federal statistics say that one in 25 college women are bulimic.

The most common therapy for bulimia was developed by Chris Fairburn at Oxford University in England. This method focuses on getting patients to focus less on weight and body image. But now a research team at the University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota has developed a new treatment to fight bulimia. The new psychological-based therapy, developed over a 10-year period in a clinical trial in Fargo and Minneapolis, uses an electronic device that patients use to record their emotions and behaviors so that they can go back and observe which emotions led to bulimic episodes.

The new treatment can be used as an alternative to the Oxford model when the established procedure has not proven successful or can be used as the 0riginal therapy option. The U.S. research team states that their success rate is similar to trails in which patients were treated under the Oxford method.

Carol Peterson is co-principal investigator on the project. She is a research associate and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Peterson holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Yale University and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Minnesota.


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