Family Therapy Touted for Anorexic Teens

STAMFORD, Calif., Oct. 6 (UPI) — U.S. researchers suggest teens with anorexia are more likely to have full remission within a year if they participate in family therapy.

Dr. James Lock of Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif., looked at family therapy during which parents control weight regain while restoring healthy family functioning and individual therapy where patients take responsibility for food issues such as identifying, defining and tolerating emotions instead of numbing them with starvation.

The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found no differences at the end of treatment between the groups in rate of full remission — defined as having a normal weight and an average score on an assessment of eating disorder symptoms.

However, at the six- and 12-month follow-ups, the researchers say, family-based treatment appeared superior to individual therapy for leading to full remission — 40 percent versus 18 percent after six months and 49 percent versus 23 percent at 12 months.

“Weight gain appeared faster for family-based treatment as assessed by age- and sex-adjusted body mass index percentile, though this effect was no longer found at follow-up,” the study authors say in a statement. “Participants in family-based treatment were also hospitalized significantly less often.”

Lock, the study leader, and colleagues randomly assigned 121 teens ages 12-18 to either family or individual therapy– 60 at Stanford University and 61 at the University of Chicago.

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