The PEACH lab’s eating disorders research has focused on two main areas: eating disorders diagnostic criteria and policies to prevent eating disorders.
Eating Disorders Diagnosis
In the last four versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa required a female to have an absence of menses (amenorrhea) for three months. In collaboration with colleagues at the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders, we conducted a study on whether this was an important diagnostic criterion and found that there were not meaningful clinical differences between those who did and did not meet the amenorrhea diagnostic criteria. In a paper for the DSM-5 task force, our research-based recommendation to remove amenorrhea as a diagnostic criterion was subsequently implemented in the new version of DSM-5.
In a study led by Jennifer Thomas, we examined the inconsistent application of the DSM-IV diagnostic criterion for weight loss for anorexia nervosa, which revealed that researchers were using a range of body weight percentage or body mass index cut offs to diagnosis anorexia nervosa and these cut-offs lead to dramatically different prevalence estimates for the illness. In another study led by Robyn Sysko, we demonstrated adequate test-retest reliability of the new proposed criteria for binge eating disorder, which became an official eating disorder diagnosis in DSM-5.
In collaboration with colleagues at the Yale Program for Obesity, Weight, and Eating Research, we conducted research demonstrating that the proposed DSM-5 change to reduce the required binge eating and/or purging frequency criteria from twice weekly to once weekly would capture clinically significant cases.
Eating Disorders Assessment
In collaboration with Kerstin Blomquist and colleagues at the Yale Program for Obesity, Weight, and Eating Research, we developed an assessment tool called the Eating Loss of Control Scale to measure loss of control eating on a continuous scale. For a long time, the eating disorders field measured this construct, which is required for the diagnosis of bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, as the presence or absence of loss of control when eating, but we believe this new tool will shed light on this complicated clinical experience with which many patients struggle.