Originally published on Monday, February 15, 1999.
RESEARCH LINKS EATING DISORDER TO CHEMICAL IMBALANCE IN BRAIN REMOVING CHEMICAL FROM DIET HAD GREATER AFFECT ON FORMERLY BULIMIC WOMEN
The Associated Press
A new study adds to evidence that bulimia, an eating disorder, springs at least in part from a chemical malfunction in the brain and not merely from excessive desire to remain thin, researchers say.
The disorder can cause sufferers to alternate between binge eating and starving or purging.
In the study, released Sunday, women who had suffered from bulimia and recovered were more affected psychologically than other women by being deprived of tryptophan. This chemical plays an indirect role in appetite regulation, researchers found.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that exists in many foods and is used by the body to make serotonin, a mood- and appetite-regulating chemical in the brain.
Compared with normal women, the recovered bulimics reported bigger dips in mood, greater worries about body image and more fear of losing control of eating after being deprived of dietary tryptophan for about 17 hours, researchers found.
The study was published in the February issue of the American Medical Association's Archives of General Psychiatry. The subjects consisted of 10 recovered bulimics and 12 normal women.
The women were given identical-looking fruit drinks and snacks, some with tryptophan and some without. They were not told which