FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Academy for Eating Disorders
The Academy for Eating Disorders Releases Position Statement on “The Fast Track Trial”
Reston, VA, March 6, 2019 – The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) recently issued a position statement on considering the risk of eating disorders and associated problems when evaluating the risks of human research participation. This position was prompted by a clinical trial being conducted in Australia called “Fast track to health: The effect of a modified alternate day fasting diet pattern on weight loss and well-being among young people above a healthy weight.” The Fast Track trial has garnered significant attention within the eating disorders field and beyond, as concerns have been raised about potential harms to participants.
Concerned researchers, clinicians, and advocates have expressed concerns about the extent to which participation in this trial might leave adolescents vulnerable to the development of eating disorders, since participation requires them to engage in dietary restriction (an established risk factor for eating disorders) during the trial. Given the demonstrated risk for eating disorders among people who engage in dietary restriction, several organizations have issued their own statements on the Fast Track Trial including the Australia and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders and Health at Every Size Australia.
In light of the growing concerns about the Fast Track trial, the AED issued its own statement that clarifies the organization’s position on research that may increase the risk of eating disorders in a vulnerable population. The statement carefully outlines the ethical principles that guide decision making in research protocols in order to present a consensus position for the organization. Using this framework, the AED Board emphasized that children and adolescents (participants in the Fast Track Trial) are a vulnerable population, and as such, research involving such participants should be undertaken cautiously and conservatively. Furthermore, the position statement asserted that the increased risk for eating disorders among children and adolescents engaging in weight loss interventions does not outweigh potential benefits, given a paucity of data on the effects of a modified alternate-day fasting pattern in children and adolescents. Thus, the AED Board concluded that “research that promises few to no reasonably anticipated benefits alongside serious risks in a vulnerable population, such as appears to be the case in this study, should not proceed.”
By releasing this position statement, the AED aims to clarify its position on human subjects’ research that might involve a risk for eating disorders. In doing so, the position statement highlights the seriousness of eating disorders and the importance of conducting research in a way that answers legitimate scientific questions while also protecting “the very people we rely upon to make discoveries.”
The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) is an international professional association committed to the leadership in eating disorders research, education, treatment, and prevention. The goal of the AED is to provide global access to knowledge, research, and best treatment practice for eating disorders. For additional information, please contact Elissa Myers at (703) 626-9087 and visit the AED website at www.aedweb.org.