Background: Structural imaging studies demonstrate brain tissue abnormalities in eating disorders, yet a quantitative analysis has not been done.
Methods: In global and regional meta-analyses of 9 voxel-based morphometry (VBM) studies, with a total of 228 eating disorder participants (currently ill with anorexia nervosa), and 240 age-matched healthy controls, we compare brain volumes using global and regional analyses.
Results: Anorexia nervosa (AN) patients have global reductions in gray (effect size = -0.66) and white matter (effect size = -0.74) and increased cerebrospinal fluid (effect size = 0.98) and have regional decreases in left hypothalamus, left inferior parietal lobe, right lentiform nucleus and right caudate, and no significant increases. No significant difference in hemispheric lateralization was found.
Conclusions: Global and regional meta-analyses suggest that excessive restrained eating as found in those with anorexia nervosa coincides with structural brain changes analogous to clinical symptoms.