Anorexia and Genetics Study

Monday, June 01, 2015

A very interesting segment from Mamamia TV that Victoria and Ingrid took part in earlier this year.

Victoria Montgomery: My name is Victoria Montgomery and I’m 23 years old. When I was 16, my obsession with over exercising and controlling what I ate saw me hospitalized and diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.

Ingrid Montgomery: For me it was a very emotional, traumatic journey actually as a primary carer. At times it was very frustrating.

Dr. Cynthia Bulik: Our estimate is that about twenty eight thousand people have suffered from anorexia nervosa at some point in their life in Australia. So the anorexia nervosa genetic initiative is the largest genetic study ever to be conducted on anorexia nervosa and what we’re doing is were collecting thirteen thousand samples from people in Australia and New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden and the United States who had ever had anorexia nervosa at any point in their life.

We’re then going to compare their genomes and the genomes with people who have never had anorexia nervosa and look to see where the differences are.

Ingrid Montgomery: I’ve recently written a book called “love her hate her” which is about our journey together with anorexia nervosa and “love her hate her” stands for exactly that. She’s my daughter of course, I love her but there are times when I really did hate her and I hated the anorexia nervosa.

Dr. Cynthia Bulik: So for years parents have felt guilty. They felt blamed when their children develop an eating disorder. I think this is going to have the opposite effect. What we have seen is that parents and patients actually feel relieved when they understand that there is a genetic component.

What I tell parents is…You know, sometimes they just say to their kid: Why don’t you eat more? What I explain to them is that when we’re helping people with anorexia recover, they are fighting an uphill battle against their biology. That helps them understand why recovery is so difficult and also lift that sense of blame. They don’t feel guilty when their kids get asthma, so why should they should feel guilty when their kid gets anorexia.

Ingrid Montgomery: I do believe there is a genetic disposition in going through my own family history. I have discovered that two of my family members, my direct family members have also suffered from eating disorders.

Victoria Montgomery: To be honest, I’m not sure but with my family history with eating disorders I believe yes, there could be…could be a genetic component to it and that’s why I think people should get involved in this study.

Dr. Cynthia Bulik: What we’ve tried to do is we’ve tried to make participation really easy. So all you need to do is go up to the website and the best way to get there is just google Angi, A-N-G-I Australia. It’ll take you right there. You fill out a short survey, lasts about nine minutes and all you have to do is give a small blood sample and you could do that at your local GP or just at a path lab. And most of the time what we hear from people is they want to participate because they don’t want anyone else to go through what they’ve gone through and that’s enough to really bring them to the website to get them to fill out the survey and to roll up their sleeves for science.

Watch the video here
Anorexia Nervosa - Is it genetic?