Knowing your family history can save your life: Eating disorders

Knowing your family history can save your life: Eating disorders

New research has shown that eating disorders are a form of genetic disease and that family history research is an effective way of determining your predisposition of inheriting them.

We’ve written several times in the past about the importance of family medical histories as a way of determining predispositions to certain genetic diseases.

While this may make sense due to the growing awareness of the hereditary traits of illnesses like heart disease, obesity and certain forms of cancer, for many the idea that eating disorders may also share similar traits is news.

In a recent Huffington Post article, Dr. Kenneth Weiner skillfully examines the topic and looks at the theory around what exactly it is people are inheriting when it comes to eating disorders.

Dr. Weiner explores the link between genetics and eating disorders and says there is a strong genetic component.

Research has found that 40 to 50 percent of the risk of developing an eating disorder is based on genetics,” he writes.

Current theory is that variations in the serotonin receptors passed down through genetics may lead to people being more likely to develop negative or obsessive personalities.  These personality types are linked to a higher likelihood of someone developing an eating disorder.

Whether that theory proves to be true, or another better one takes its place, the facts appear to show that there are hereditary links when it comes to eating disorders and that they ought to be examined on a familial level.

One of the most powerful tools for monitoring a predisposition for these, and all other hereditary diseases for that matter, is to include a thorough family medical history as part of your family history research.

Weiner adds, “…there is certainly value in understanding the interplay between genetics and eating disorders and evaluating your risk based on family history.”

Not only will the document help you and your living relatives, it will also become an incredibly valuable tool for many generations to come.


DID YOU KNOW? It is easy to add causes of death and lifestyle facts to your MyHeritage tree. Simply click on any profile in your tree and add a fact in the left hand pane.

Click on the image to see the entire tree

Click on the image to see the entire tree


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  • Mary-Jill Bellhouse

    January 15, 2012

    What a great post. Exactly oneof the reasons why recording your family history can be of utmost importance. By recording your family members telling their memories and talking about their lives and experiences, we can learn very valuable information to pass on to future generations, and who knows, some of that information may just save one of your children’s lives.