Can genetic research help us improve treatment outcome for eating disorders?

Like many other survivors who still bear the scars of Anorexia Nervosa, I am incredibly grateful for the research into this disease showing that it has a strong genetic component. This study was the first of its kind to show that an individual’s DNA may be useful as an adjunct tool in clinical care. More specifically, if findings from genetic studies become more robust through larger sample sizes, genetic information may help us identify individuals who are at greatest risk for developing a severe or enduring illness.


by Therese Johansson, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Eating disorders arise from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Eating disorders affect millions of people around the world, are life-disrupting, and in some cases can be life-threatening. Unfortunately, no easy test exists, like a blood test, that can tell us if someone has an eating disorder. 

Recent studies led by Karolinska Institutet, UNC CEED, and King’s College London compared the DNA of people with and without (typical) anorexia nervosa and identified regions in the human DNA that differ between individuals with anorexia nervosa and those without [1]. This has helped us understand the underlying biology of the disorder and has the potential to further help us identify people at risk for poor outcome. Another somewhat surprising result of these studies was that low body mass index (BMI) and anorexia nervosa share genetics, indicating that people who are genetically prone to a low BMI might be at higher risk for developing low weight anorexia nervosa [2].— Read on


  1. Thank you for sharing this important research, which not only has the possibility of finding new tools to help those with anorexia nervosa, but I hope will help to remove the stigma, guilt and blame so common in eating disorders.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s