Anorexia linked to perfectionism and early dieting

Twins with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa has significantly higher perfectionism scores than unaffected co-twins. They also report younger ages at first diet than unaffected co-twins who dieted. These findings are from a 2017 study published on Cambridge Core. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder where a person keeps their body weight as low as possible. Many people with anorexia have a distorted image of themselves, thinking they’re obese when they’re not.

Compared personality and other factors

The researchers used 22 Swedish female monozygotic* twin pairs discordant for anorexia nervosa. They compared personality, life events, co-morbidity, and health factors. The study indicates that early dieting may be a harbinger of the development of anorexia nervosa or an early symptom. Higher perfectionism may represent a risk factor. Also, more twins with anorexia nervosa reported gastrointestinal problems than unaffected co-twins. Anorexia most commonly affects girls and women, although it has become more common in boys and men in recent years.

*Twins who’ve shared a placenta in their mother’s womb.

Pay attention to the feelings of the co-twin

Although not significant due to low statistical power, more unaffected co-twins reported experiencing emotional neglect than twins with anorexia nervosa. The researches points to the fact that the co-twin’s feelings of neglect is noteworthy given the impact of an ill child with an eating disorder on family function and well-being.

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