skip navigation nih record
Vol. LXIII, No. 8
April 15, 2011

previous story

next story


Most Teens with Eating Disorders Go Without Treatment


About 3 percent of U.S. adolescents are affected by an eating disorder, but most do not receive treatment for their specific eating condition, according to an NIMH-funded study.

About 3 percent of U.S. adolescents are affected by an eating disorder, but most do not receive treatment for their specific eating condition, according to an NIMH-funded study published online Mar. 7 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Dr. Kathleen Merikangas of NIMH and colleagues analyzed data from the National Comorbidity Study-Adolescent Supplement, a nationally representative, face-to-face survey of more than 10,000 teens ages 13 to 18. Previously published results found that about 20 percent of youth are affected by a severe mental disorder and a substantial proportion of these youth do not receive mental health care.

In this new study, Hispanics reported the highest rates of bulimia while whites reported the highest rates of anorexia.

The majority who had an eating disorder also met criteria for at least one other psychiatric disorder such as depression. And each eating disorder was associated with higher levels of suicidal thinking compared to those without an eating disorder.

The prevalence of these disorders and their association with coexisting disorders, role impairment and suicidal thinking suggest that eating disorders represent a major public health concern.

NIH Study Identifies Gene that Suppresses Cell’s Immune Activation

A new study of prostate tumors has shown that a gene, FOXO3, suppresses activation of cells related to immunity and thus leads to a reduced immune response against a growing cancer. One of the main problems in treating cancer by vaccine or immunotherapy is that tumors often evade the body’s immune response—and one of their tricks is to create an environment where immunity is inhibited or suppressed. By identifying a gene that makes immune cells suppressive, the researchers may have found a new target for enhancing immune responses to cancer tumor cells. The study, by scientists from the National Cancer Institute, appeared in the Journal of Clinical Investigation on Apr. 1.

“Our research suggests that it may be possible to boost immune responses to tumors and prevent immune suppression if we target FOXO3, either directly or with prostate and other cancer vaccines,” said Dr. Arthur A. Hurwitz, head of the tumor immunity and tolerance section, NCI. “This might be achieved by using small molecule drugs or peptides that target FOXO3 in dendritic cells or by silencing FOXO3 expression in dendritic cell vaccines that already exist, making them more potent. We believe this finding could also be applied to treating autoimmune diseases, where therapies aimed at inducing immune suppression may benefit from enforcing expression of FOXO3.”

NLM Offers Resources for Japan Disaster

Three resources at the National Library of Medicine are available to those who need urgent access to health information related to tsunamis, earthquakes and radiation events affecting Japan.

Radiation Emergency Medical Management (REMM)—Clinicians who need to learn about assessing and managing radiation emergencies are urged to use the REMM web site at Selected key files from REMM are also available for downloading on mobile devices from htm.

Emergency Access Initiative—The EAI ( has been activated in support of medical efforts in Japan. It is a partnership between NLM and participating publishers to provide free access to full-text articles from over 230 biomedical journals and over 65 reference books and online databases to health care professionals and libraries affected by disasters. EAI was activated three times last year following the earthquake and subsequent cholera epidemic in Haiti and during devastating flooding in Pakistan.

Japan Disasters Topic Page—A new page of links to information on the Japan earthquake, tsunami and radiation event is now available at The resources on this page may help with understanding the health issues related to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant disruptions.

back to top of page