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Physiol Behav. 2004 Apr;81(2):359-74.

Eating disorders: clinical features and pathophysiology.

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Columbia University/NYSPI, Unit #98, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are disorders of eating and weight-related behavior that together afflict some 1-3% of women in the United States. One of the remarkable features about each of the eating disorders is how persistent the disordered eating behavior becomes once it has begun. Substantial psychological, social, and physiological disturbances are associated with eating disorders, and it has been very difficult to disentangle those factors that may result from the disturbed behavior from the factors that may have predisposed individuals to, or precipitated the development of, the disorder. This article will briefly review the definitions, phenomenology, and identified risk factors for development of each of the major eating disorders. Pathophysiology will be discussed, with a particular focus on candidate factors that might sustain disordered eating behavior, as informed by clinical and basic science research. Future research directions will be suggested.

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