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National eating disorders conference will have neurochemical focus

May 5, 2010
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Some conference discussions will reflect a current emphasis on genetic links

While environmental triggers for eating disorders maintain a significant presence in society, research is uncovering genetic links to eating behaviors that offer a more nuanced picture of these disorders’ causes and possible treatments. Clinical professionals will gather in Las Vegas this month to explore advanced treatment strategies reflecting a more balanced perspective on the factors connected to eating disorders.

Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders, a treatment organization with operations in Arizona and Virginia, will host “Clinical Recipes for Success—Advanced Treatment for Eating Disorders” May 13-16 at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa. Dena Cabrera, PsyD, a psychologist at Remuda and a member of the organization’s national speakers’ bureau, says these meetings tend to attract counselors, psychologists and other professionals involved in the clinical care of patients with eating disorders.

Cabrera says significant research in genetics is allowing clinicians to tell families that “this is more than your child wanting attention, or trying to lose weight, or dealing with bullying. There is a chemical aspect to the way we approach food and deal with these problems.”

Cabrera adds that family influences also are capturing a great deal of research attention in eating disorders. Treatment programs in turn are responding by enlisting families as partners/assets in treatment, not as a contributing problem that needs to be “fixed,” she says.

Topics to be covered at this year’s conference include evidence-based nutrition strategies; food and the brain; mindfulness approaches; and eating disorders in males.

National eating disorders and exercise physiology expert Ralph Carson, MD, will deliver a talk highlighting a brain model of how mood and cravings are linked and what can be done to alter this. Remuda Ranch also has announced that this speaker for the presentation “Food & Mood: When Food and Eating Is a Problem in Life” has entered into a partnership with the treatment organization for training of staff and other professionals in treatment innovations.

According to a statement from Remuda about Carson’s ongoing work with the organization, “Dr. Carson’s training will focus on physiological recovery from eating disorders using a brain atlas. He will discuss utilizing psychotherapy in order to stimulate the brain to rewire itself; nutrition and diet to nourish the brain so that repair, growth and modification take place; and sleep therapy to heal the brain.”

For more information about this month’s conference, visit