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Commentary: An exemplar of progress in understanding complex disorders – reflections on what we have learned about eating disorders (Culbert et al., 2015)

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A number of recent advances in eating disorders research have helped clarify the nature of risk for the development of such disorders. Culbert et al. () provide an empirical and thoughtful review of these recent advances. The authors identified empirically established risk factors in each of several categories of risk for eating disorders: genetic influences, neurotransmitter activity, hormones, personality, and sociocultural influences. We highlight three implications of their review. First, the review can serve as an important asset to eating disorder researchers, both substantively, by providing a comprehensive account of empirically supported risk processes; and methodologically, by highlighting good standards of evidence for acceptance of a candidate risk factor. Second, eating disorder risk is increased by both transdiagnostic and eating disorder‐specific factors; there is a need to understand how these types of factors transact with each other. Third and most important, we highlight the importance of Culbert et al.'s advocacy for the development of theoretical models, and empirical tests of those models that specify transactions among different types of risk factors, such as those based on genetic, neurobiological, personality, and social processes.
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Keywords: Eating disorder; etiology; risk factors

Document Type: Commentary

Publication date: November 1, 2015

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