A proof-of-concept study applying machine learning methods to putative risk factors for eating disorders: Results from the multi-centre European project on healthy eating

I. Krug*, J. Linardon, C. Greenwood, G. Youssef, J. Treasure, F. Fernandez-Aranda, A. Karwautz, G. Wagner, D. Collier, M. Anderluh, K. Tchanturia, V. Ricca, S. Sorbi, B. Nacmias, L. Bellodi, M. Fuller-Tyszkiewicz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background Despite a wide range of proposed risk factors and theoretical models, prediction of eating disorder (ED) onset remains poor. This study undertook the first comparison of two machine learning (ML) approaches [penalised logistic regression (LASSO), and prediction rule ensembles (PREs)] to conventional logistic regression (LR) models to enhance prediction of ED onset and differential ED diagnoses from a range of putative risk factors. Method Data were part of a European Project and comprised 1402 participants, 642 ED patients [52% with anorexia nervosa (AN) and 40% with bulimia nervosa (BN)] and 760 controls. The Cross-Cultural Risk Factor Questionnaire, which assesses retrospectively a range of sociocultural and psychological ED risk factors occurring before the age of 12 years (46 predictors in total), was used. Results All three statistical approaches had satisfactory model accuracy, with an average area under the curve (AUC) of 86% for predicting ED onset and 70% for predicting AN v. BN. Predictive performance was greatest for the two regression methods (LR and LASSO), although the PRE technique relied on fewer predictors with comparable accuracy. The individual risk factors differed depending on the outcome classification (EDs v. non-EDs and AN v. BN). Conclusions Even though the conventional LR performed comparably to the ML approaches in terms of predictive accuracy, the ML methods produced more parsimonious predictive models. ML approaches offer a viable way to modify screening practices for ED risk that balance accuracy against participant burden.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalPsychological Medicine
Early online date29 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • bulimia nervosa
  • eating disorders
  • machine learning
  • risk and protective factors

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