Anorexia nervosa is a disorder in which a person is
obsessed with maintaining low body weight. It commonly affects young adolescent
women; the women severely restrict their eating, exercise vigorously, and may
even vomit excessive food, with the sole purpose of remaining thin.
Anorexia nervosa has a genetic predisposition; some
women are more likely to suffer from this condition based on their genetic
make-up. However, the exact genes responsible have not been clearly identified.
This issue is likely to be solved following the completion of a large study,
the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative (ANGI), conducted by the Queensland
Institute of Medical Research, Australia.
The study aims to recruit around 8000 women
suffering from anorexia nervosa to study the genetic linkage to the disease.
The women will initially fill an online questionnaire to confirm the diagnosis,
followed by blood tests.
The researchers re-iterate that by identifying the
genes responsible for the condition, they can identify the patients at risk,
and pay special attention to them. However, the mere presence of the genes may
not compulsorily mean that the patient will suffer from the disease. A change
in the environment could trigger the condition in these individuals.
The study provides hope to several patients to prove that the disease has
a genetic basis and is not a purely a psychiatric disorder.