Eating disorders may increase depression, cognitive impairment and high BMI later in life

Cristina Vintró-Alcaraz

What was the goal of your research or experiment?

The main goal of this investigation was to explore the association between previous history of an eating disorder (i.e. anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder) with depression and cognitive impairments later in life. We were also interested in whether eating disorder increases the risk of metabolic syndrome later in life. The metabolic syndrome is characterized by several risk factors (such as hypertension, high values of triglycerides, and large waist circumference, among others) that can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cerebrovascular stroke.

This research was carried out in the context of the Predimed-Plus study cohort, in which data were collected from different Spanish centers to investigate the effects of the Mediterranean diet in people between 55 and 75 years of age. The present research included a total of 6756 individuals. Just twenty-four of them (0,35%) reported a previous history of eating disorder.

How did you measure or test this?

Sociodemographic (sex, age, level of education, marital status, and employment status), anthropometric (weight, height, and waist circumference as well as blood samples), and psychological data were collected by trained personnel. Regarding psychological variables, participants completed self-reported questionnaires to examine a lifetime history of an eating disorder, current depressive symptoms, and current cognitive impairment.

What were the main results or findings?

There was a larger number of women participants with a previous history of eating disorders compared to men (out of the 24 individuals, 17 were women; 7 were men). When comparing individuals with a history of eating disorders to those without, we found that they had greater levels of depressive symptoms, more cognitive impairment and higher body mass index. In contrast, we did not find differences in blood-tests measures, such as diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure between the group who reported an eating disorder and the group who never had this disease.

What does this mean? What is the next step?

Our study confirms that previous history of an eating disorder was associated with greater affective and cognitive impairment, but also with higher BMI, later in life. With the aforementioned context in mind, in order to develop preventive strategies and personalized treatment approaches, long-term consequences should be taken into account in populations with an eating disorder. Further studies are necessary to deepen the relationship between eating disorders and metabolic syndrome through long-term longitudinal studies to monitor BMI, blood measures and psychological variables of patients who have developed an eating disorder.

Publication information

Title: Psychological and metabolic risk factors in older adults with a previous history of eating disorder: A cross-sectional study from the Predimed-Plus study

Authors: Cristina Vintró-Alcaraz, Isabel Baenas, María Lozano-Madrid, Roser Granero, Miguel Ruiz-Canela, Nancy Babio, Dolores Corella, Montserrat Fitó, J. Alfredo Martínez, Ángel M. Alonso-Gómez, Julia Wärnberg, Jesús Vioque, Dora Romaguera, José López-Miranda, Ramon Estruch, M. Rosa Bernal-López, José Lapetra, Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, Aurora Bueno-Cavanillas, Josep A. Tur, Vicente Martín Sánchez, Xavier Pintó, Miguel Delgado-Rodríguez, Pilar Matía-Martín, Josep Vidal, Jersy J. Cárdenas,  Lidia Daimiel, Emilio Ros, Cristina Razquin, Andrés Díaz-López, José I. González, Laura Forcano, María de los Ángeles Zulet, Maria C. Bello-Mora, Silvia Valenzuela-Guerrero, Manoli García de la Hera, Jadwiga Konieczna, Antonio García-Ríos, Rosa Casas, Ana M. Gómez-Pérez, Ana García-Arellano, Mònica Bulló, José V. Sorli, Aida Cuenca, Itziar Abete, Itziar Salaverria-Lete, F. Javier Basterra-Gortari, Rafaelde la Torre R, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, and Fernando Fernández-Aranda

Journal: European Eating Disorders Review

Year: 2021