Thursday, February 9, 2006

Medicine: simple questions predict future eating disorders

Maybe it's just that I have this fantasy that preventive medicine is cheaper, more efficient, and makes people's lives suck less. And maybe I just like filling out forms. But I get really excited about questionaires that actually have useful predictive value, because questionaires are cheap, easy to organize, and give people stuff to do for that hour they're waiting on you in the waiting room instead of sorting through your old copies of the Placebo Journal.

Asking the right questions may allow doctors to tell whether a young woman is heading for an eating disorder, a new study suggests.

British researchers found that by giving young female dieters a questionnaire about their eating habits, they were able to accurately predict which ones would develop an eating disorder more than 70 percent of the time...

...The findings, according to Fairburn's team, suggest that a similar brief questionnaire could be used as part of young women's routine healthcare. Doctors could then target high-risk patients for prevention, or at least follow-up with them at subsequent visits.
According to the article, those who progressed to an eating disorder were much more likely to say they often ate "in secret" or frequently wanted to feel they had an "empty stomach." They also showed a greater preoccupation with food or their body shape, and more often feared they would "lose control" of their eating.

They also had a better chance of having gone to my high school. Dating me in high school was associated with a 100% future development of an eating disorder.

I can't find the text of the actual paper right now, but I do wonder what value a test like that might have in a 'designer' disorder. By 'designer' disorder, I mean a disease that a lot of people fake or 'aspire to.' And sadly, there are circles where it's cool to be anorexic. If you aren't, it's because you're too weak to be anorexic.

Don't get me wrong. Girls that have these diseases suffer. They live a life of an obsessed hell, and my God, they need help. But for every girl who lives in this terrible hell, there are probably a hundred O.C. watchers who want to be as anorexic as the chicks on that show. Of course, they want this because they're screwed up in the head, but not screwed up in the head by an eating disorder. They're simply children of the twenty first century.

And that should probably *almost* be a DSM-V ICD-9 codable disorder.

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