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Passing on an eating disorder | smh.com.au.

NOTE: Found this fascinating as my 10 year old daughter won’t eat solid food – all has to be liquids and soups. Normal hight and weight but not eating normally and no obvious reason, despite tests and barium meal X-Rays. Mother dosen’t have an eating disorder in this case. But who knows what is in the genes?

Passing on an eating disorder


August 26, 2012

Claire (in red) & Anna Vickery. Mother Claire (who set up the Butterfly Foundation) and her daughter are recovering from eating disorders .

From mother to daughter … Claire Vickery, right, and Anna. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

Claire Vickery was not surprised when scientists announced that eating disorders have a genetic link, because she and her two daughters suffered from the illness.

Eating disorders specialist Professor Howard Steiger, of McGill University in Montreal, told a conference in Adelaide last week that new discoveries in epigenetics show mothers pass a genetic predisposition to eating disorders to their children.

”The science of epigenetics is relatively new,” he said at the National Eating Disorders Collaboration National Workshop. ”Epigenetics helps explain how adverse development, stress, malnutrition and other influences can affect development of mental-health problems – including eating disorders.”

Ms Vickery, 56, said she had bulimia from the ages of 16 to 29. ”I’m sure I’m carrying the gene.”

However, the president of the Australian and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders, Dr Anthea Fursland, said that genes alone would not result in a child developing an eating disorder. ”Genetic influences do play a part but they will not cause an eating disorder on their own,” she said. ”Eating disorders arise as result of a combination of factors but the common factor in every case is dieting.”

Ms Vickery’s two daughters, Anna and Laura, both had eating disorders when they were younger. They have all recovered but Ms Vickery’s experience led her to set up the Butterfly Foundation, which encourages prevention, treatment and support of those affected by eating disorders.