Posted on Jan 08, 2024, 12 p.m.
Research published in JAMA Network Open conducted in collaboration with investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and University College London as well as the University of the Republic in Uruguay, suggests that the eating disorder anorexia nervosa is associated with being an early riser.
Other research suggests that there is a connection between eating disorders and the body’s internal clock (circadian) which controls a variety of biological functions. This study used the Mendelian Randomization statistical method to assess how genes that are associated with a certain trait affect other traits of interest and the relationship between anorexia nervosa and sleep.
According to the investigators, they found a two-way association between genes associated with anorexia nervosa and genes associated with the morning chronotype (early birds: waking up early and going to bed early). Findings suggest that being an early bird could increase the risk of developing anorexia nervosa, and having the eating disorder could lead to an earlier wake time. The investigators also found an association between anorexia nervosa and insomnia.
"Our findings implicate anorexia nervosa as a morning disorder in contrast to most other evening-based psychiatric diseases and support the association between anorexia nervosa and insomnia as seen in earlier studies," says senior author Hassan S Dashti, Ph.D., RD, an assistant investigator in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at MGH and an assistant professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School.
Currently, treatments for anorexia nervosa are limited, and unfortunately have relapse rates of up to 52%, which is not helped by the cause of the disease remaining unclear. This eating disorder has the second-highest mortality rate of psychiatric diseases making it imperative not only to develop new prevention strategies but to also conduct more research to gain desperately needed insight into the disorder.
"The clinical implications of our new findings are currently unclear; however, our results could direct future investigations into circadian-based therapies for anorexia nervosa prevention and treatment," says Hannah Wilcox, lead author of the study and researcher at MGH.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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