Family backgrounds and eating disorders

Psychopathology. 1997;30(3):163-9. doi: 10.1159/000285043.


The aim of this study was to assess the possible relationship between the presence of a pathological family background and various eating disorders subgroups. A semi-structured interview was used to assess the socio-demographic and clinical characteristics and the presence of psychological complaints among family members of 79 subjects with anorexia nervosa (AN) and 34 subjects with bulimia nervosa (BN). The subjects were also administered the following self-assessment questionnaires: BITE, EDI, and HSCL-90. There were nonsignificant differences between AN and BN in terms of parental mental disorders. A further subdivision of the patients (as indicated in DSM-IV) revealed significant differences in the distribution of psychiatric family history. In particular, it seems that the presence of purgative behavior is associated with a higher incidence of a pathological family background. These results suggest that pathological family histories are not responsible for the development of ED, but they are an aggravating factor both in AN and BN.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Bulimia / psychology
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires