Eating Disorders and Genetics

Eating disorders and genetics have a strong correlation, according to recent research and studies on eating disorders. Researchers have discovered a connection between eating disorders and genetics especially with anorexia nervosa, according to supported data and statistics.

While anorexia continues to be primarily a disease that is of a psychosocial illness variety, anorexia as well as bulimia are also said to be of genetic linkage. Studies comparing DNA samples of people with anorexia as well as their family members who also have an eating disorder have noted that eating disorders are often linked in families, but not always with the exact same eating disorder. While genetics don't necessarily control the eating disorder connection, they do play a role in predisposition between eating disorders and genetics. The genetic link shows a strong possibility of susceptibility of eating disorders related to the genes on chromosome 1 for the individuals included in the study. 

Eating Disorders and Genetics:

While there are clearly other environmental factors that influence a person's likelihood of developing an eating disorder, genetics are becoming more and more widely recognized as a contributing factor to someone developing an eating disorder like bulimia or anorexia. According to eating disorder statistics, about eight million Americans have an eating disorder with about seven million women being the primary group of those affected with this mental illness. Breaking down that number even further, that means that about one in 200 women in America suffer from anorexia alone. About two to three women out of 100 American women have bulimia. Because of this large, and growing number, genetics are now being recognized as a possible culprit of why this mental illness is becoming so common. 

The up side to this discovery means that more preventative measures might be able to be taken now that researchers know genetics play a role in the susceptibility of developing an eating disorder. For families where at least one family member has an eating disorder, more attention should be paid to other individuals in that family that might be prone to developing an eating disorder. Some of the risks involved in this assessment are if the person is female, in her early to late teens and struggles with low self-esteem. Because eating disorders, at the root, are a mental illness, the likelihood of someone developing issues like this are also more likely to already suffer from similar mental illnesses like depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, troubles in school, problems with being the victim of bullying, etc.

Because eating disorders are considered to have the highest risk of fatality compared with any other mental illness, and those with eating disorders are unlikely to get treatment, it is important that preventative measures are taken as early as possible. A good example of this would be parent or mothers that have/had an eating disorder. These individuals should work to get treatment for their illness if they haven't already because they are likely to pass the behaviors on to their children. it is also important that they watch their children's behaviors to ensure they do not develop the same mental illness, or to get their children professional help as soon as they begin to see signs that their children might develop an eating disorder. 

Treatment for eating disorders often includes psychotherapy. It is also important to monitor your child's behaviors to ensure they are eating food instead of hoarding it or throwing it away. Make sure they are not throwing up their meals. This can help if you have regular family dinners where proper nutrition is taught. Keeping a balance between healthy eating and exercise is more likely to help children not develop an eating disorder even if they are already genetically prone to developing the problem. Getting treatment as soon as possible is the best way to not allow the mental illness to become too powerful. 


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