Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
November/December 2007 Volume 18, Number 6
©2007 Gürze Books
There is some truth to the time-honored belief that there is an association between family eating patterns during childhood and later development of an eating disorder, according to a group of researchers in Barcelona, Spain (Appetite. 2007; 49:476). An overemphasis on the value of food seems to be one key area.
Dr. Fernando Fernandez-Aranda and colleagues studied 261 eating disorder patients with anorexia nervosa (33.5%), bulimia nervosa (BN, 47.2%), eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS, 19.9%), and 160 healthy controls from the province of Catalonia, Spain, who were matched for age and education levels. Participants in the study completed the Early Eating Environmental Subscale of the Cross-Cultural (Environmental) Questionnaire, a retrospective measure of childhood eating attitudes and behaviors. The control group also took the General Health Questionnaire-28.
An excessive focus on food
Compared to healthy controls, the patients with eating disorders reported more unhealthy eating patterns early in life, including eating excessive sweets and snacks, and eating foods specially prepared for them. Regularly eating breakfast was negatively associated with an eating disorder. The unhealthy eating patterns, in conjunction with an excessive importance given to food by the individual and family may increase the likelihood of developing an eating disorder later in life, according to the authors.