While many individuals try to shed pounds, relatively few develop the
eating disorders anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN). The reason
why some cross the line between dieting and disorder, scientists are finding,
may be rooted in these individuals' genetic makeup.
Genetic risk factors make a major contribution to a vulnerability to
these eating disorders, explains Walter Kaye, MD, a psychiatrist at the University
of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. At the same time, psychosocial and environmental
factors prove less influential than once thought. AN and BN have a heritability
of 50% to 80%, Kaye said, similar to that of other major psychiatric disorders
such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder .
Lamberg L. Advances in Eating Disorders Offer Food for Thought. JAMA. 2003;290(11):1437-1442. doi:10.1001/jama.290.11.1437