Monthly Archives - October 2018

Person using Apple Watch - River Centre Clinic

Binge Eating Study, Apple and Smartwatches

In 2014, the New York Times published an article that explored the ever-growing presence of smartwatches in healthcare. The article argued that watches in the future will not only track time in increasingly complex ways, but will also play a more critical role in helping people stay healthy. These new watches which mimic the nomenclature of the smartphone are collectively known as smartwatches. The article predicted that in the near future, these devices would go beyond simply transferring app usability from a smartphone to your wrist.

The long-term goal of these devices was to solve problems and deliver benefits to the user in a fundamentally new way that was unique to the smartwatch. These high-tech wristbands would track a person’s fitness level while simultaneously helping with the treatment and management of chronic health conditions. Since 2014, smartwatches have expanded in their functionality and popularity. Many smartwatches can help monitor heart conditions and sleep issues, but now these devices will assist in treating eating disorders.

For readers who are not familiar with smartwatches, here is a brief summary of these newer devices. Basically, a smartwatch is a small computer that is worn on the wrist. They can associate with a smartphone and are extensively used for long-term biomonitoring or telemetry. More recent smartwatches have smartphone functionality and utilize Bluetooth and LTE technology.

Reflecting current medical industry trends, many technology companies have been expanding there presence in the healthcare industry. The tech giant Apple has a number of rumored healthcare-themed projects. For example, a recent patent application that was made public suggests that the company may soon offer a wearable device that accurately monitors blood pressure. In a different healthcare specialty, Apple is donating smartwatches for a new research on eating disorders. The tech company will donate Apple Watches to a binge eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa (BN) study.

The term eating disorder is a broad medical term. The diagnostic system in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) classifies eating disorders into four basic diagnostic categories: anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), binge eating disorder (BED) and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). The most notable change in the DSM-5 over the previous editions was the recognition of binge eating disorder as a separate eating disorder category. In recent years illnesses like bulimia have gained public attention. Entrepreneur, actor and political activist Jane Fonda recently spoke publicly about her battles with bulimia.

The goal of the binge eating study is to discover whether this illness is biological or behavioral in origin. More precisely, the study is hoping to better understand the genetic factors that may be associated with binge eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa (BN) in order to develop better treatments for the millions of people who suffer from these illnesses.

The creator of the iPhone is donating 1,000 of its Apple Watches to this study. The company itself is not conducting the study or analyzing any of the data. However, researchers believe that Apple’s smartwatch technology could help to greatly expand the medical understanding of how and why eating disorders occur. Participants in this study will wear the Apple Watch in order to monitor their heart rates over an entire month. They will use a mobile app on the smartwatch to record their thoughts and emotions during periods of binge eating activity. The researchers are investigating whether there are specific biological changes that occur in the body before a binge eating episode. Examples of biological changes that the study hopes to detect are changes in a person’s heart rate before each episode. This kind of data is something that the Apple Watch should readily detect and record.

A long-term goal is to use this data to predict binge eating episodes before they happen. In this way, medical professionals could specifically understand what happens to the human body in the time period leading up to binge and purging behavior. Ultimately, researchers hope to gain the ability to anticipate and change the course of these episodes.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and Bulimia Nervosa (BN) are dangerous conditions that require medical help. An individual suffering from bulimia nervosa may reveal several signs and symptoms, many which are the direct result of self-induced vomiting or other forms of purging, especially if the binge/purge cycle is repeated several times a week and/or day.

Physical signs and symptoms of this eating disorder include:

  • Constant weight fluctuations
  • Electrolyte imbalances, which can result in cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, or ultimately death
  • Broken blood vessels within the eyes
  • Enlarged glands in the neck and under the jawline
  • Oral trauma, such as lacerations in the lining of the mouth or throat from repetitive vomiting
  • Chronic dehydration
  • Inflammation of the esophagus
  • Chronic gastric reflux after eating or peptic ulcers

Other signs and symptoms of binge eating and purging are:

  • The disappearance of large amounts of food
  • Eating in secrecy
  • Lack of control when eating
  • Switching between periods of overeating and fasting
  • Frequent use of the bathroom after meals
  • Having the smell of vomit

Only experienced healthcare professionals can properly diagnosis eating disorders and provide crucial help. For additional information about binge eating and bulimia, please contact the staff at River Centre Clinic (RCC). Their Eating Disorders Programs provide a full range of treatment options for both adolescents and adults. The River Centre Clinic is located in the tranquil setting of Sylvania, Ohio – a historic suburb of Toledo, Ohio.

The EAT-26 (Eating Attitudes Test) assessment provides anonymous and quick feedback for a variety of eating-related health conditions.

Follow on Twitter:  @River_Centre

Binge Eating, Bulimia Nervosa, Apple, Smartwatches

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Orthorexia Nervosa versus Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is a well-known eating disorder that afflicts both women and men. The disease creates an extreme fear of weight gain in people who suffer from it. Symptoms include not eating, binge eating and purging, also known as bulimia. However, there is a lesser known eating disorder that shares similarities to anorexia, but is still different. This disorder is known as orthorexia nervosa and was first described in 1998.

Orthorexia means an obsession with proper or healthy eating. Having a concern with the nutritional quality of the food is a healthy behavior, but problems occur when this concern becomes excessive, damaging and disruptive. Individuals with orthorexia become so fixated on what they perceive as healthy eating that they actually damage their own physical and emotional well-being.

Is Orthorexia Nervosa the same as Anorexia Nervosa?

Many of the symptoms and behaviors surrounding orthorexia tend to overlap with anorexia. Yet, in cases of anorexia, people tend to focus more on severely restricting the quantity of food (calorie count). There is a clear and forceful desire to not gain weight. This, in turn, creates behavior that focuses on excessive exercising in order to lose unwanted weight. However, these are separate inflictions.

Since orthorexia is a newer diagnosis, it still possesses varying levels of acceptance among eating disorder treatment professionals. Some eating disorder specialists regard orthorexia as a discrete diagnosis like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. There are reports that signs of orthorexia are perhaps increasing due to the use of social media to popularize extreme diets and other food-related behavior. Other health professionals, believe that patients with orthorexia symptoms are actually suffering from anorexia nervosa. The symptoms for orthorexia and anorexia have similarities such as:

  • A desire to maintain control of life by severely controlling daily food consumption.
  • Seeking self-esteem and fulfillment through controlling food intake.
  • Citing undiagnosed food allergies as a rationale for avoiding food.
  • Co-occurring disorders such as OCD or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
  • Elaborate rituals about food that may result in social isolation

What Is Orthorexia Nervosa?

There are still very few studies on the Orthorexia, but theories suggest that it is based on anxiety and/or depression much like other eating disorders. It is for this reason that the occurrence of orthorexia is typically accompanied by other eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder (BED). Which means a person’s orthorexia can co-exist with a bulimia disorder. This means an individual could binge on seemingly healthy foods (vegetables) and then purge the food in order to get rid of the calories.

Unlike bulimia though, people with orthorexia can hide their disease by displaying their symptoms in plain sight. At initial glance, people suffering from orthorexia appear to be simply taking care of their physical body. Individuals with orthorexia may even talk about how they are about their eating habits. But, this healthiness is an illusion. There is a difference between conscious, healthy eating and having orthorexia nervosa. Orthorexia is similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), in the fact that people must create rules and engage in specific rituals around food.

Some trendy or extreme diets can trigger behavior that resembles orthorexia. However, simply adopting an alternative diet, whether based on science or pseudoscience, does not mean someone has orthorexia. For example, some people adopt a trendy diet that restricts certain food groups: Vegan, gluten-free, Paleo diets, etc. The adoption of these diets does not automatically create an orthorexia diagnosis.

Orthorexia turns eating into a pathological activity that becomes entangled with obsessive thinking, compulsive and ritualistic behavior and self-punishment. Individuals with orthorexia often use a diet to achieve a feeling of perfection, purity or superiority. They may feel judgmental towards people who do not follow their perfect, healthful diet. This means they often spend excessive amounts of time planning and researching “pure” foods, which interferes with participation in normal social activities and interactions. These symptoms are what turns a trendy diet into orthorexia nervosa.

How are Orthorexia Nervosa and Anorexia Nervosa Different?

Obsession with weight is one of the primary signs of anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders. But this is not a symptom of orthorexia. Instead, the focus for people with orthorexia is an excessive obsession with the health implications of their dietary choices.

People with anorexia will severely restrict their food intake in order to lose weight. People with orthorexia, however, strive to feel pure, healthy and natural. The focus is on quality of foods consumed instead of the quantity. In the end, it is critical that people with eating disorder signs and symptoms seek appropriate clinical advice from a professional with experience treating orthorexia, anorexia as well as other conditions. The obsessive tendencies associated with orthorexia can indicate a co-occurring disorder that should be diagnosed and treated by a psychiatrist.

There are definite similarities as well as differences between anorexia and orthorexia. Both of these eating disorders tend to provide a sense of control and stability around the consumption of food. Again, both eating disorders are dangerous mental illnesses that require professional treatment from a skilled clinician.

For additional information or questions about anorexia and orthorexia, please contact the experienced staff at River Centre Clinic (RCC). Their Eating Disorders Programs provide a full range of treatment options for both adolescents and adults. The clinic is located in a modern, spacious and tranquil setting in Sylvania, Ohio.

Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26)

The EAT-26 is the most widely cited standardized self-report screening measure that may be able to help you determine if you have an eating disorder that needs professional attention. Take the EAT-26 now and get immediate and anonymous feedback.

Follow on Twitter:  @River_Centre

Orthorexia Nervosa, Anorexia Nervosa,

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