Objective: To critically review the research in juvenile anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa over the past 10 years and highlight recent advances in normal development as it pertains to these disorders and their diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.
Method: Computerized search methods were combined with manual searches of the literature. A detailed review of the most salient articles is provided. Preference was given to studies involving children and adolescents that approached the subject from a developmental perspective.
Results: The information from these studies is presented in a developmental framework. Research in eating disorders has progressed, but definitive longitudinal data are still absent from the literature. Research specific to treatment of child and adolescent eating disorders remains rare.
Conclusions: Data approaching eating disorders from a developmental perspective are available in only a few studies. Research is needed addressing normative data on the development of eating behavior and specific risk and resilience factors for pathology in specific developmental periods. Especially lacking are studies regarding the continuities and discontinuities of eating disturbances across the life span. Best documented are epidemiological studies of prevalence and incidence, long-term outcome in anorexia nervosa, and short-term treatment response in bulimia.