Impact of short-term refeeding on appetite and meal experiences in new onset adolescent eating disorders.


Journal Article

Restrictive eating disorders (ED) are increasing and represent a serious risk to the health of adolescent females. Restrictive ED in youth are often treated through aggressive short-term refeeding. Although evidence supports that this intervention is the "gold standard" for improving ED outcomes in youth, little research has specifically probed appetite and meal-related responses to this type of intensive, short-term refeeding in newly diagnosed individuals. Information about appetite and meal-related dysfunction could provide valuable insights regarding treatment-interfering features of ED in both acute inpatient and longer-term outpatient treatment. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the hunger, fullness, olfactory, and gustatory responses of adolescents with newly-diagnosed restrictive ED and to probe how and when these responses are altered by refeeding. Using a quasi-experimental ecologically valid methodology, this study described and compared profiles of hunger, fullness, olfactory, and gustatory responses in adolescent females (n = 15) with newly diagnosed restrictive ED at hospital admission (i.e., severe malnutrition) and after medical refeeding, in comparison to healthy controls (n = 15). Results showed that newly diagnosed (i.e., malnourished) adolescents with ED showed significantly different meal-related experiences than controls. Refeeding improved some of these differences, but not all. Following refeeding, females with ED continued to show lower hunger, greater fullness, and lower pleasantness of smell ratings compared to controls. Unpleasantness of taste ratings maladaptively increased, such that females who were re-fed reported more aversive scents than pre-treatment. Profiles of meal-related responses were also identified and compared between groups. The applicability of these findings are discussed within the context of critical periods of change during refeeding treatment and potentially promising intervention targets that might enhance treatment outcomes for adolescents with newly onset, restrictive ED.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Peterson, CM; Tissot, AM; Matthews, A; Hillman, JB; Peugh, JL; Rawers, E; Tong, J; Mitan, L

Published Date

  • October 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 105 /

Start / End Page

  • 298 - 305

PubMed ID

  • 27263068

Pubmed Central ID

  • 27263068

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1095-8304

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0195-6663

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.appet.2016.05.037


  • eng