Who has altered eating?

We are continuing to monitor the lastest evidence on the relationship between smell loss and coronavirus. There is mounting evidence that sudden onset anosmia (smell loss) may be a sign of infection. ENT UK, the professional membership body representing Ear, Nose and Throat surgery,  recommends self isolating if you experience smell loss. From our research with those living with altered eating we know that smell loss may go unrecognised by those suffering, so any loss of appetite or changed food preferences towards food tastes including sweet, salt, fat may be an indicator that smell is affected and we recommend you self-isolate immediately. Monitor updates on twitter @alteredeating and @GCChemosensoryR

Our definition of 'altered eating' is changed state of any combination of physical, environmental, emotional and social interactions with food and eating that has a negative impact on health and wellbeingIt is a deliberately broad definition. While we recognise that there are many conditions and circumstances where eating difficulties are common, many of the complications of eating difficulties are shared across conditions and circumstances. This is why we consider altered eating as a trans-diagnostic and trans-dsiciplinary concern, and why we stress  that a taylored approach is essential.Each person will have a different set of symptoms, different sensory deficits, and even these may fluctuate from day to day, meaning we have to adapt our approach to eating and pleasure for each person. And, like in our research, participants need to lead on it. 

Some experiences of altered eating may be short term (for example a bout of oral thrush, or during chemo/radiotherapy) or long term (for example oral thrush as a persistent symptom of HIV/AIDs or cancer; or long term changes due to cancer and chemo/radiotherapy). The Altered Eating Research Network is interested in both, but we feel it is important to make the distinction  between time-limited and chronic altered eating.

Some experiences of altered eating may be environmental (eg climate impacts/pollution altering sensory perception) or social (the experience of migration and changed access to food/social inequalities)

We currently have research underway, by students and experienced researchers, investigating altered eating in Cancer, Parkinson's Disease,  Sjogren's Syndrome, Autism, Peanut Allergy, Cystic Fibrosis, Pregnancy, Weight cylcling (yo-yo dieting) and Facial Palsy. We have also been working with dieticians and nutritionists to better understand altered eating in Aquired Brain Injury. But we think there may be many other conditions where altered eating difficulties go largely un-recognised and un-supported.

We would welcome researchers to contribute to the network with studies of altered eating in other areas, and to help us understand the scale of altered eating problems. These are some of the conditions and issues we've identified, just to give you examples, but in reality the list is a lot longer . Get in touch if you think a condition or area deserves some attention.

  • Ageing
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Alzheimer's
  • Anosmia
  • Anxiety
  • Aquired Brain Injury
  • Austerity
  • Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)
  • Bereavement
  • Burning Mouth Syndrome (primary or idiopathic)
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chemo/radiotherapy
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Climate change
  • Constipation
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Dementia
  • Dentures
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Drug use/medication side effects
  • Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa
  • Edentulism (toothlessness)
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS)
  • Environment
  • Food aversions caused by chemo/radiotherapy
  • Food bank reliance
  • Food minorities
  • Halitosis
  • Head injury
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Inequalities
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Institutionalisation
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Learned helplessness
  • Menopause
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Obesity
  • Oral candidiasis (oral thrush)
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Peanut allergy
  • Pollution
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy
  • Professional - for actors, dancers, others where eating/non-eating is prescribed
  • Ramsay Hunt syndrome
  • Sjogren's syndrome
  • Smoking
  • Social determinants
  • Stroke
  • Toxic exposure
  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Weight cycling