Precursors As Risk Factors

Precursors may be risk factors, but not all risk factors are precursors. For the purpose of our discussion here, only correlates shown to precede the disorder will be considered. Kraemer et al. [13] described risk factor as ''a characteristic, experience or event that, if present, is associated with an increase in the probability (risk) of a particular outcome over the base rate of the outcome in the general unexposed population''. According to Kraemer et al. [13], risk factors may work together in different ways to produce an outcome: as mediating (explaining why and how another factor affects outcome), moderating (specifying under what conditions another factor will affect outcome), independent (factors that are unrelated in source and time and are co-dominant), overlapping (related factors that occur in the same time frame and have equal weight on the outcome) and proxy (a global factor of which only one component is a risk factor).

In preventive medicine, epidemiological studies have generally served to identify risk factors. Unfortunately, in eating disorders research, population-based studies are scarce, and few have determined the absolute risk, the overall probability of developing the disease in the population at large [14]. In the eating disorders, associations with variables preceding the illness have by and large been determined from clinical studies; for this reason, the term ''precursor'' is not only descriptively, but also methodologically more accurate than the term ''risk factor''. One of the drawbacks of using clinical populations is that information from clinical samples, with their generally higher comorbidity than cases drawn from the general population, can complicate interpretations. For example, in the eating disorders, comorbidity might influence aspects of the family's or the individual's functioning, but might have less of an impact on precursors like eating or exercising habits. Moreover, precursors may not be specific: the same precursor may be a risk factor for a depressive or an anxiety disorder. No prospective studies, which would assess the relative risk of premorbid variables to contribute to the particular disorder, have so far been published.

Breaking Bulimia

Breaking Bulimia

We have all been there: turning to the refrigerator if feeling lonely or bored or indulging in seconds or thirds if strained. But if you suffer from bulimia, the from time to time urge to overeat is more like an obsession.

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