Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

New research shows that people who suffer from recurrent abdominal pain in childhood may be more likely to have disordered eating as teenagers.

Child holding abdomen in pain

This is the first study to provide prospective evidence of an association between recurrent abdominal pain at aged 7-9 years and fasting to control weight at aged 16 years. The study, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, suggests that recurrent abdominal pain, the most common gastro-intestinal complaint of childhood, may be an independent risk factor for later fasting to control weight.

Researchers at the University of Oxford, Duke University USA, and the University of Bristol, used the ‘Children of the 90s’ population cohort of 14,000 children in the UK, to explore this association.

Dr. Kate Stein, lead author on the study, Department of Psychiatry, University Oxford, said, ‘Record numbers of young people are being referred to NHS eating disorder services with more than twice as many referrals in 2020 as there were in 2017. The factors behind eating disorders are complex, but our findings suggest that for some patients, recurrent abdominal pain in childhood may precede and contribute to later problems.

‘While we cannot confirm that childhood recurrent abdominal pain increases the risk of developing an eating disorder, we suspect that some children become fearful of their pain and start to avoid foods which they associate with the pain. This could then set them on a trajectory which leads to unhelpful fasting behaviours in adolescence.’

Read the full story on the Department of Psychiatry website

The story is also featured on the University of Oxford website.

Similar stories

NHS garden in full bloom at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The sun was shining for the RHS Chelsea Flower show press day earlier this week. One garden in particular bloomed particularly brightly, with the 'Finding Our Way: An NHS Tribute Garden' getting plenty of attention.

University of Oxford launches Podium Analytics Institute for Youth Sports Medicine and Technology

Oxford University has been selected as the home of the new Podium Analytics Institute for Youth Sports Medicine and Technology. This will be the world’s first academic Institute focused on young athletes’ safety and lifelong health and will combine Oxford’s longstanding tradition in sports and education with the very best of science, medicine, and technology.

QCovid highly commended for ‘best use of technology in Patient Safety’ at the 2021 HSJ Patient Safety Awards

Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox and her team in Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences have been Highly Commended in the ‘Best use of technology in Patient Safety’ category for the QCovid risk calculator at this year’s Health Service Journal Patient Safety Awards.

New guidelines to improve reporting standards of studies that investigate causal mechanisms

Researchers in the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS) have developed a new set of guidelines for reporting mediation analyses in health research.

Prestigious award for Oxford professor's diabetes work

A University of Oxford professor has been awarded the 2021 EASD-Novo Nordisk Foundation Prize for Excellence for his decades of effort to understand, prevent and combat type 1 diabetes.