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Approved Research

Body Composition, Lipodystrophy and Metabolic Profiling in Eating Disorders

Principal Investigator: Professor Nadia Micali
Approved Research ID: 89892
Approval date: November 10th 2022

Lay summary

The aims of the present project are to analyse body composition and fat distribution in individuals with eating disorders from a large population-based study. We will also study the relationship between these parameters and grey and white matter in the brain. Lastly, we aim to evaluate the relationship between blood parameters related to metabolism, body composition, and brain structure in individuals from the UK BB with eating disorders and those without psychiatric or physical disorders.

Eating Disorders lead to severe medical complications, and researchers have shown differences in body tissues and distribution of fat tissues in those with eating disorders. For example, fat tissue distribution has been found to be more centrally-located, both in patients with anorexia nervosa and in patients with binge eating disorder, despite the fact that individuals with these disorders are at the two opposite extremes of body weight.

In a previous study we have shown that obesity is linked to abnormal brain network functioning, here we want to understand if fat tissue distribution might be differentially related to brain structural features, namely grey and white matter integrity and volumes in those with eating disorders and controls. Lastly, body tissue distribution is associated with laboratory parameters (for example, LDL and HDL cholesterol, fasting insulin, thyroid, sex, and stress hormones etc) in healthy and obese subjects, but this has not been studied in a large group of individuals with eating disorders from the general population.  Findings from our study will improve our understanding of fat tissue distribution, physiology and metabolism in eating disorders and could allow better treatment of physical complications in this patient population.

The present project is expected to last roughly 12 to 18 months.