Family and twin data suggest that there may heritable factors that predispose to susceptibility for developing eating disorders (58,59). While there appear to be familial factors involved in the development of anorexia and bulimia nervosa, further study is necessary to sort out the magnitude of additive genetic factors with those of shared environment (60). Studies are currently in progress to identify genetic factors contributing to the pathogenesis of anorexia and bulimia nervosa (61).
Although abnormalities in numerous neuroendocrine and metabolic systems have been described in eating disorders, it is often difficult to sort out the effects of semistarvation or purging behaviors from disturbances that might be primary (62). While many of the metabolic abnormalities seen with eating disorders normalize after recovery, suggesting a state, rather than trait, component (63), some researchers have found persistent abnormalities after recovery from anorexia or bulimia nervosa (46,64,65). Few data are available to support preexisting neuroendocrine or other physiological differences among those who will later develop eating disorders, but the possibility exists that a biological vulnerability to eating disorders interacts with environmental factors to increase the likelihood of their development.
Was this article helpful?