UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Eating Disorders Research Group

The Eating Disorders Research Group focuses on understanding causal and maintenance factors related to eating and weight disorders as well as developing and improving treatments for those affected.

As a research team, we aim to answer such questions as:

  • What do people with anorexia nervosa value about their disorder, and do patients’ perceived benefits and burdens of anorexia predict how well they will fare in treatment?
  • What risk factors for eating disorders exist specifically for elite athletes?
  • What causes anorexia in those with autism and how is it best to treat those with this dual-diagnosis?
  • What role does attachment to caregivers and the ability to understand behaviours in terms of mental states (e.g. intention) play in family therapy for adolescent anorexia?
  • What can we learn about Avoidance Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) and its subtypes?
  • What role does oxytocin play in social abilities and body awareness in anorexia?
  • What’s the impact of fasting on mood, cognition, and disordered eating?
  • How can intuitive eating be best used as treatment in community eating disorder services?

Details of current projects can be found below:

  1. Ambivalence in anorexia: The predictive validity of perceived advantages and disadvantages on treatment outcome
  2. Attachment and mentalization in family therapy for adolescent anorexia nervosa
  3. A systematic examination of the influence of oxytocin on social abilities and body awareness in anorexia nervosa
  4. The impact of an intermittent fasting diet on disordered eating symptomology and mood – does it differ for intermittent versus continuous calorie restriction?
  5. Risk factors of eating disorders in athletes
  6. Study of eating disorders in autistic females (SEDAF)
  7. Exploring best practice for diagnosis of ARFID and classification of sub-types

**See links below for audio and video of Dr Lucy Serpell's UCL Minds Lunch Hour Lecture: Should I fast for my health and wellbeing? from October 2019