Risk factors for the development of eating disorder phenotypes and endophenotypes in adolescent twins [ 2005 - 2007 ]

Also known as: How do environment, temperament and genes work together to cause eating disorders?

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: Prof Tracey Wade (Principal investigator)

Brief description The overall aim of the project is to develop a better understanding of how environment, temperament and genes work together to cause disordered eating and eating disorders. Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are an extremely difficult and costly condition to treat, and are associated with high mortality. Eating disorders in adolescence lead to increased risk for anxiety disorders, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, depressive disorders, infectious diseases, suicide attempts, and limitation in activities due to poor health in adulthood. Full- and partial-syndrome eating disorders affect around 10% of adolescent girls. Given the seriousness of the consequences of eating disorders, and the large number of Australians affected, a better understanding of what causes the development of eating disorders is required. The current research investigates identical and non-identical adolescent female twins aged 13-15 years. As well as examining their eating, this study will look at the sort of environments and temperaments that may increase genetic susceptibility to develop eating problems. The types of environment to be examined include media influence, weight related peer teasing, parental dieting, and pre- and pernatal complications. Twin temperament will also be examined, including perfectionism, sense of ineffectiveness, body dissatisfaction and depression. Parental anxiety and novelty seeking will also be examined for impact on the development of disordered eating in their children. The twins will be followed up over a 2-year period, the peak risk age for onset of eating problems. By comparing the identical and non-identical twins, we can define the characteristics of those most at risk of developing eating problems. The results of this project can be used to formulate specific prevention strategies.

Funding Amount $AUD 266,500.00

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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