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Hormonal Factors and Disturbances in Eating Disorders

Abstract

This review summarizes the current state of the literature regarding hormonal correlates of, and etiologic influences on, eating pathology. Several hormones (e.g., ghrelin, CCK, GLP-1, PYY, leptin, oxytocin, cortisol) are disrupted during the ill state of eating disorders and likely contribute to the maintenance of core symptoms (e.g., dietary restriction, binge eating) and/or co-occurring features (e.g., mood symptoms, attentional biases). Some of these hormones (e.g., ghrelin, cortisol) may also be related to eating pathology via links with psychological stress. Despite these effects, the role of hormonal factors in the etiology of eating disorders remains unknown. The strongest evidence for etiologic effects has emerged for ovarian hormones, as changes in ovarian hormones predict changes in phenotypic and genetic influences on disordered eating. Future studies would benefit from utilizing etiologically informative designs (e.g., high risk, behavioral genetic) and continuing to explore factors (e.g., psychological, neural responsivity) that may impact hormonal influences on eating pathology.

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Correspondence to Kristen M. Culbert.

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Culbert, K.M., Racine, S.E. & Klump, K.L. Hormonal Factors and Disturbances in Eating Disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep 18, 65 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-016-0701-6

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Keywords

  • Eating disorders
  • Eating pathology
  • Hormones
  • Endocrine
  • Review