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Childhood eating and weight in eating disorders: A multi-centre European study of affected women and their unaffected sisters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

N Micali, J Holliday, A Karwautz, M Haidvogl, G Wagner, F Fernandez-Aranda, A Badia, L Gimenez, R Solano, M Brecelj-Anderluh

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234 - 241
Number of pages8
JournalPsychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Issue number4
PublishedJun 2007

King's Authors


Background: Previous studies have suggested that childhood eating and weight problems may be risk factors for eating disorders. Robust evidence is still lacking. Aims: To investigate whether childhood eating and weight problems increase the risk of eating disorders in affected women compared to their unaffected sisters. Methods: Women ( 150) with anorexia ( AN) or bulimia nervosa ( BN) recruited from clinical and community samples were compared to their unaffected sister closest in age on maternal reports of childhood eating and weight. Results: Women with BN were significantly more overweight at the ages of 5 and 10 ( both OR = 2.8, p <0.01), ate a lot ( OR = 1.3, p <0.01), were less picky ( OR = 0.6, p <0.05) and ate quickly ( OR = 2.3, p <0.05) between the ages of 6 and 10 compared to their healthy sisters. Significantly more women with AN were described as having a higher weight at 6 months ( OR = 0.8, p <0.01) and 1 year ( OR = 0.6, p <0.01) compared to their healthy sisters. Childhood eating was comparable in the women with AN and their unaffected sisters. Conclusions: Traits of childhood overeating were more common in bulimic women compared to their unaffected siblings. Subjects with AN did not differ from their sisters on eating variables. The increased risk of BN due to childhood overweight suggests that prevention strategies for childhood obesity and overweight may therefore be applicable in BN. Copyright (c) 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

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