Quick Takes

Louisville researcher will study how to treat, prevent eating disorders

By: - November 29, 2023 3:03 pm

Cheri Levinson is an associate professor with the university and the director of Louisville’s Eating Anxiety Treatment (EAT) Lab. (Photo provided)

A Louisville researcher will use $11.5 million in grant money from the National Institutes of Health to study how to treat and prevent eating disorders, the University of Louisville announced Wednesday. 

Help is available

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, you can get help through the National Eating Disorder Association by calling 800-931-2237 or chatting online at nationaleatingdisorder.org.

The Louisville Center for Eating Disorders provides nonemergency services, including outpatient therapy. Visit louisvillecenterforeatingdisorders.com or call 502-205-1114 for more information. 

Leading several projects over the next five years on the subject is Cheri Levinson, who is both an associate professor with the university and the director of Louisville’s Eating Anxiety Treatment (EAT) Lab

Millions of Americans have eating disorders, which can be connected to suicidality and other health problems. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be called or texted, is 988. 

A February study published in the medical journal JAMA reported that, after examining 63,181 participants in 16 countries, 22% of children and adolescents —  roughly 1 in 5 — had disordered eating. Girls, the study found, “were significantly more likely to report disordered eating.” 

“Despite the high prevalence of these conditions, there are few available treatment and prevention options,” Levinson said. “This work not only will create options, but opens this whole possibility for treatments that are personalized based on the individual. Because eating disorders don’t just affect one kind of person and there are a multitude of different factors that can influence them.”

The grant money is divided into several buckets, according to the university. They are: 

  • $4 million toward understanding how eating disorders develop in childhood and beyond. 
  • $4 million toward identifying patterns of anorexia nervosa — an eating disorder characterized by a fear of gaining weight. This money will also help researchers look at the connection between anorexia and suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be called or texted, is 988. 
  • Almost $4 million toward treating eating disorders.

GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, children's welfare, COVID-19 and more.

MORE FROM AUTHOR